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


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!


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


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


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


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


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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Never Shift Your Eyes from the Peak

Anziano Toronto wrote this impromptu poem for this week's letter after hearing his family hiked 2 "14ers" this week (Colorado mountains that are more than 14,000 feet high).  

I used up all of my creativity and writing prowess last week, so this is just gonna have to do!

Outta precious 0-2
My face starts turnin blue,
Legs are cryin out,
Gotta pebble in my shoe...

Fino alla fine,
Can I really make it THAT far?
Summit seems so outta reach
What if I just lower the bar!

Wait, nah
I know i can't slow down,
My fam, my friends, my squad,
Counting on me to take my struggle without a sound...

Your mountain,
Call it Torrey, Democrat or Grey,
Pales in comparison to His,
And yet He seems to say,

Let me take your pack, your cares,
All your trouble too,
I'll lift your burdens up,
and do all you'll let me do...

When climbing to that mountain top,
Don't carry unnecessary weight,
Leave that pack behind, with Him,
Step up. Take your place!

So what your serve can't find the box (@Zito)!
So what you made mistakes!
There's only one Roger Federer in this world,
And none can take His place.

Trust in his redeeming grace,
And lift another soul,
I've learned that only in service can we,
Truly be fulfilled.

Sometimes you'll need to take a breath,
And even sometimes two,
But never shift your eyes from the peak,
He wouldn't want you to.

We are doing a great work,
We surely can't come down.
I'm sorry, I've run out of time,
I'll end this, proselyting bound!

Vi Voglio Bene
In fatti un Mondo di ciรฒ,
E vi lascio con queste parole,
Vive il Redentore, Io So!

Alla prossima!

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dear Elder Toronto...

Colosseum squad feat. Anziani Ridd, Waddell, and McConkie

We've done it again! We've reached the weekly email that discusses Zone Conference, and this time around was full of takeaways. So buckle up, enjoy the pictures, and the stories that go along with them!  (I figure months of photographic neglect can be solved by one email full of photos... that's how it works right?)

Well we'll begin with the theme for this conference, which was a focus on finding, and the power and authority contained in our missionary calls.

Finding has been one of my own personal journeys here in Italy, as I have chosen to optimistically view the hours of finding we do on a daily basis. By teaching as we find, Anziano Waddell and I enjoy ourselves when we are asked by the Lord to search for his prepared sons and daughters. Anziano Waddell is an incredible example for me in terms of desire, and willingness to do all things required of him! I simply love this stud of a missionary!

As we were invited to reflect on our missionary calls, I thought back to the weekend where mine sat on my desk in Heritage Halls 3202, unopened. That weekend possibly required the most patience I have ever had to have. The wait, however, was well worth it, as I read the words contained in the subject line, followed by, "You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Italy Rome Mission." I remembered and felt again many of those same feelings I experienced as I read those words for the first time. I can't put into words the joy and excitement that coursed through me as I ate Graham Canyon ice cream from the BYU Creamery, and pondered the two exciting years that laid before me, while Nana and Anne Katherine peppered me with a million questions. That call came with a purpose, "Invitare le persone a venire a Cristo aiutandole ad accettare il vangelo restaurato mediante la fede in Gesรน Cristo e la Sua espiazione, il pentimento, il battesimo, il conferimento del dono dello Spirito Santo e perseverando sino alla fine." Every day of these two years has been dedicated to this pursuit, and every day until I take the tag off will be the same.

Besides this, Zone Conference was fantastic!
Rome East Zone Pics

Other highlights include...

▪Sunday night, the Pescara sQUADron got to do some finding in Rome centro, and where more awesome to go than the Colosseum?!

▪Anziano McConkie and I got to sing "Homeward Bound," as a duet, while Anziano Silver accompanied us on the piano.

Anziano McConkie and I during our musical number

▪I met up again with Anziani Osmond, Dickey, and Maytham, all core members of the original MTC Squad, which was a dream come true!

MTC Squad feat. Anziano Osmond, Maytham, and Dickey

▪Post ZC fashion photo shoot also produced some absolute gems, to be saved, and shared with posterity!

"Trying to get 19 and 20 year old boys to take serious pictures..."

▪4 Man Sacrament Meeting Sunday night, after missing it that morning due to bus scheduling.

▪A fun bus ride home, in which cinnamon sugar pecans were shared, along with pre-mission stories, and a whole lot of laughs!

Knowing that you'll hear from me shortly, I'll leave off there, just know that I'm grateful for your support and love from a distance!

We pray for you every night!

Vi Voglio un Mondo di Bene,

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Cinnamon roll progression and chaos…

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fun of a Different Sort


When I read this week of each of your adventures in the Great Maine Walker Family Reunion, I almost felt a tinge of jealousy, but then I remembered I'm in Italy, and that the fun we're having out here is just one of a different, but nonetheless real, sort! Our joy comes from seeing others accept the message of the restored gospel and make commitments that will set their eternal course in the right direction. 

While many of you were paddleboarding, swimming, kayaking, and participating in other fun water sports, I got to admire the Adriatic from a distance! Che Bellissima! One day I will swim in her waters, just not for the next 16 months!

As Camille met boa constrictors in NYC, Anziano Waddell and I found Biscotto, (as he has now come to be called). Biscotto is my childhood dream of having a dog come true in the form of 30 second, slobbery hellos exchanged as we go to and from our house each day. I recognize the reason why we can't have pets as missionaries, because if he wasn't kept from us by a gate, we'd never get anything done, we'd be playing with him all day!


As you ate ice cream, pizza, lobster, clam, crab, and countless other meals, my culinary abilities were flourishing on the other side of the globe. New, hungry missionaries, heretofore reliant on college meal plans need food to eat, but don't know quite how to prepare it themselves. That's where two "veterans" of the Italy Rome Mission step in. This week was filled with classic Toronto household dishes such as fajitas, German pancakes, and cereal, along with newly acquired plates like gnocchi, chicken fried rice, and 4 cheese pesto. If I have learned anything besides how to effectively preach the gospel in the months I have lived here, it is how to cook, and cook well... a skill no doubt my family and friends will thank me for in the future, not to mention my wife. ;)


As you roamed the streets of "Little Italy," I roamed those of "Slightly Bigger Italy," searching for those with a thirst like that of the woman at the well. The living spring that is Jesus Christ is the quenching draught they seek, and only when his servants walk by, smiling and friendly, do they recognize how tantalizing the water is!

As you discussed Safe Harbors, and rescuing the one, we were trying our best to put the concept into practice. Anziano Waddell and I have dedicated this week to searching out those who need to be brought safely home, and ensuring them passage on the Great Ship Zion. Not all want to come aboard, in fact many prefer to swim around the boat, and hop on that ship "Vice and Temptation," so expertly guided by the Enemy of our Souls. Our work is to provide them a ticket, and allow them to choose whether to come aboard, or seek refuge elsewhere. I testify the only true refuge is found in the safety provided by the commandments.

I echo the invitation from Nana this week, to firmly plant yourself on the Rock of our Redeemer. As you do so, the insignificant shafts in the whirlwind will have no power over you. In reunions to come, we will see others missing, serving the Lord selflessly in other lands and bringing the gospel to those who have need of it! I truly can't wait for that day! 

All of my love, and a warm Italian abbraccio, 

Vi Voglio Bene,

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Q and A

Sunday Night Gesso with the Pescara Squad

Q) What is your favorite food in Pescara?

A) Without a doubt, Arrosticini... these succulent lamb skewers can be eaten by the tens, and the Law of Diminishing Returns, or marginal benefit doesn't seem to apply! I haven't had the opportunity yet to eat any fish from Pescara, but everyone I talk with tells me I can't go wrong with Arrosticini!

Q) What is one important thing that you have learned from your current companion, and one thing that you believe you have taught your current companion?

A) I don't quite know how to limit the things I have learned from Anziano Waddell to just one, but perhaps the greatest takeaway of the last two weeks has been the unquenchable thirst for knowledge that he carries with him everywhere he goes. His energy, happiness, and desire are all contagious! I hope I have taught him to some degree the diligence and consecration a mission requires.

Q) How are you doing at modeling the standard of obedience to your district?

A) While it seems to be a point I seem to never be able to perfect, it is always one I'm searching to improve upon. President Nelson, if I remember right, gave a talk entitled, "Perfection Pending," and that's just about exactly how I feel about it! I'll continue to work my tail off to get there!

Q) How are you doing in the absence of the Pickards and how is the mission doing?

A) Absence no more! President Pickard should be returning tomorrow, and Sorella Pickard should be joining us in early September! In their absence, things went smoothly, helped a lot by a pair of veteran missionaries currently serving as APs... They took care of small scale, logistical issues, while decisions were made by President Euvrard. Here is an excerpt from my weekly letter to the mission president, "I'm not quite sure which President I'm reaching with this letter, but given the opportunity, I wanted to thank President Euvrard for his example of selfless service. In the MTC we were taught that we were sent to our specific mission to learn from the mission President we would have there. I have no doubt this included both President Pickard and President Euvrard! I will strive to always keep in mind the concept of finding, focusing on, and saving "the one," and seeing others with the eyes of God. I will also strive to be ready to be called upon when there may be a need!"

Q) How are you feeling about your Italian language skills having now been in the country for about six months?

A) Fortunately, that hasn't been a worry of mine in quite some time. I am more than capable in communicating with just about anyone, a gift I never can thank my Heavenly Father enough for. I have room to improve, as with all other areas of the work, but my language study seems to be improving my ability to comprehend and teach every day!

Q) What have become two or three of your favorite scripture verses? Why? How has your gospel study changed since becoming a full time missionary?

A) Certainly among my favorites, would be the entire Chapter of Alma 26, with its different applications to the praise of God, and the success we receive as missionaries. See verses 10-12, 16, 22, 27 for a few of my personal favorites! I would be remiss to leave unmentioned Alma Ch. 5, with its self-evaluation based on desire, worthiness, and asking myself if I have received the image of God in my countenance, and if I have, can I feel so now? Mosiah 28:1-4 should have a special place in any missionaries' heart, emphasis on verse 3, "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." As unreachable as that desire may seem, it's a goal, and seeking to obtain it certainly can't hurt!

Q) What are one or two things that you plan to do differently in your life, than before, based on having served a mission? How do you plan to make sure that those are lasting changes?

A) I would say the two biggest changes will be an increased gospel study, with daily scripture study and prayer, and more effective time usage. When you spend hours and hours every day striving to bring salvation to the people of Italy, all other endeavors can seem insignificant, but with that comes an appreciation of what things are most important! School and personal progression will no longer take a back seat in any sense to social media, entertainment, or similar pursuits!

Q) What are two or three of your favorite things about Italy? When you think about the day down the road when you will have to return to the United States, what will you miss most about the country?

A) I love the food, and fortunately that is something I'm able to bring back with me, in the form of knowledge learned. I feel like my cooking skills have been consecrated out here, and I can't wait to show all of you the product of 2 years of perfecting my ragรน! One other favorite has to be the people I've met, and continue to meet every day. Members, investigators, friends, even crazy people, I will miss their Italian pride and crazy side!

Q) What was one of your funniest conversations this week or this month?

A) Explaining to an Italian ragazzo, the cardinal sin he was committing as he wore a LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, with Golden State Warriors shorts and socks... I likened it to wearing a Francesco Totti Roma jersey on top, with a pair of Juventus shorts, or even worse, clashing Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona... He laughed, and told me he would continue to wear the two together regardless... I shrugged my shoulders, continued the conversation, and left him with an English Course bigliettino, laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing.

Q) How do you feel you are doing with getting along with your companion? What are you learning thus far in your mission about this great skill?

A) Can't say enough good about Anziano Waddell! We get along great, largely as a result of his desire to work, and work we do! The amount of sweating we did this week pales in comparison to that which I did a few weeks ago. I just don't think I'll ever adjust, but my body seems to be doing fine nonetheless.  As far as developing this skill for work, with each of my last 3 companions, I have gotten progressively better, and look forward to continuing the pattern.

Q) How are you doing in staying morally clean, placing appropriate barriers between you and the adversary (see Alma 53:3-4)?

A) The church does real well, protecting us there, as we apply with exact obedience the guidelines found in Safeguards for Using Technology, but there's a secondary factor, my mind. Striving to constantly "let virtue garnish [my] thoughts unceasingly," has been a significant blessing in my ability to, as Anziano Callister suggests, serve without a foot in the door.

Q) If I asked two or three missionaries in the Italy Rome mission to tell me about Anziano Christian Toronto, what would they say? What would President Pickard say about you? What would your local bishop say about you?

A) In true reflection, I would hope each would give similar answers, specifically my leaders, but my peers and fellow missionaries the same. I would love that it would be said of me, if the Lord, President Pickerd, my Bishop, my companions, and other mission leaders need an errand run, a service performed, a person taught, or a message shared, Anziano Christian Toronto is the one to do it.

Q) If we had just one hour to talk to each other, what would you talk to me about? What things do you wish we had more time to discuss each week?

A) Honestly, an hour could cover so many different topics, but among the most pressing, or even entertaining, would be first, advice for the future. I came out on the mission, knowing at some point I would need to decide on a major, or career path, before I would return, and in the past 7 months I haven't really had the opportunity to give it any thought. Now, knowing that some fairly critical decisions need to be made in the next year, and even in some cases less than that, I could certainly use the guidance of one far more experienced than I. It in no way has become a distraction, but President Pickard likes to remind us there is life after the mission, and that we are preparing for a lifetime of service after this two years of service here. There is a small corner in my mind reserved for post mission consideration, and in the next six months I will need to begin to address a few of those things contained within. An hour could pass by in a wink talking of that... Also, just a man talk about sports, or politics, or Team of Rivals, or Star Wars, and what will happen in movie 8, or just about anything normal. Sometimes I just need to unwind, and that is one way. Knowing that football is starting up again is hurting me just a little bit, but I think I'll make it through all right... I'm prepared for reports of heart wrenching losses, caused by the only consistent in Cougar sports: inconsistency.๐Ÿ˜‰

Another fantastic week out here in Pescara, with some great progress seen in our investigators' journeys! Can't wait for the success the Lord is waiting to give to us!

Vi Voglio Bene,

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Pescara City Streets

Sunset View from Pescara's most famous bridge.

Anziano Waddell on his first day in Pescara,
struggling to keep those eyes open. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Just about all week was this or higher.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Going Green!

Gesso Pic feat. Sorelle Adams, Batres,  Dustin, and Aranas,
along with Anziani Ridd, McConkie, and Waddell!


No, my title for this week does not indicate support in any progressively liberal all-green initiatives, fortunately living in socialist Italy hasn't changed me quite that much yet! Instead, it refers to the state in which my companionship, house, district, zone, and mission are currently in. With summer, came new missionaries, and with new missionaries came the need for new trainers. Despite a lack of experience, and feelings of inadequacy, I have been immensely blessed this transfer and the next to train!

My new missionary, affectionately referred to as a greenie, is named Anziano Waddell, and he's just about the biggest stud in all of Italy right now! Before the mission, I had the chance to eat lunch with him through a mutual friend, and I had absolutely no idea that 6 months later we'd be having the time of our lives out here in Pescara. He didn't even have his mission call yet, but he mentioned how cool it would be to serve in Italy, some dreams do come true folks!

Anziano Ferrara headed off to Palermo 3 Thursday, but not before we managed to grab a pizza from Fratelli di Bufala a Porta di Roma, along with a few other missionary friends! Highlight among those, was definitely Anziano Osmond, who I hadn't seen since day two in Italy!

Since arriving in Pescara, we've had a multitude of adventures but a few quick points, and I'll let you return to your normal daily life:

1) Pescara trains - This transfer we received two more companionships in our district, both of which are training. This leaves one companionship out of the 6 in our district who are not training right now! Pescara is filled with some greenie fire, and the members are beginning to engage in the work of Salvation. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to move to a larger, American style chapel in later September, and we know the Lord has great plans for this area!

2) Block parties in apartment complexes - After returning to our house last night, we heard a voice yell up to our 3rd floor apartment, "OOH (also known as the Roman Bark), Raggazzi, volete mangiare??" Or, "HEY! Boys, you wanna eat?" The sweet scent of Arrosticini drifted up, and our empty stomachs answered the all too easy question. A quick, "Sรฌ, scendiamo subito," or "We'll be right down," was all needed in response. We celebrated as most Italian's do, just without wine and coffee to accompany our food. We ate as fast as possible with our new best friends, and wished the host a happy birthday. Doing our duty as missionaries, we brought the spirit by singing "I Need Thee Every Hour" in Italian as we said good night, and said literally 14,000 'grazie's'... what a NIGHT!

3) Gesso finding fun - We also had the chance to Gesso as a city last night, and seeing 4 basically brand new missionaries with their extraordinarily capable Italian was truly a sight to behold! How grateful I am for the reminder of the joy of missionary work, seen as they teach, find, and watch others make and keep commitments on their way to baptism. They truly have a fire, and I'm just gonna keep adding fuel to it!

Last, but unquestionably not least, I'm grateful for the incredible plan of our Heavenly Father this week. My testimony of the Plan of Happiness was strengthened this week as we watched Mimo accept it without hesitation. I bear testimony the only true happiness is found in the Christlike love and service of others, and the knowledge and reassurance found within the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will be with our families for eternity, as we make the conscientious choice to serve God and Jesus Christ, and endure to the end every day! In the words of King Benjamin, "Now, if ye believe all these things, see that ye do them!"

Have an incredible week, and try not to be jealous of the adventures and fun we're having out here in Pescara!

Vi Voglio Bene,

Anziano Toronto II ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Return Appointments, Hastags, African Suits, and Italian Street Ballers

This week there isn't much to mention more than what was said last week, except that the work here in Pescara moves forward! After a tougher week, this week we were blessed to find 6 new investigators, each of whom have solid potential! Most awesome of those are Mimo and Mattia Salvatore, who own a fruit stand right across from the new chapel being built a 3 minute walk from our new apartment! After buying fruit a couple of times, and after a bit of small talk, this week we had the chance to teach the both of them the Restoration, and give them Books of Mormon. They were struck by the message we shared, and set up not just one but two return appointments with us this week! We are beyond psyched to teach them!

We still don't have hot water or gas in our new appointment, so we'll continue to shower quickly in cold water, and eat a lot of cold food and microwaveables! Im grateful for the amount of walking we do, which is currently justifying the amount of gelato we are eating... #RIPdresspants #Thank-heaven-for-Piazza-Italia-and-10€-slacks #using-hashtags-like-jjtoronto7 #like-father-like-son

I invite you to reach out this week to the one, that one lost sheep who is struggling to find their way! They are waiting for your invitation to return, or discover for themselves! As you search to do so, Heavenly Father will place those people in your path, and will guide you to them! Never let them pass you by!

Here is a pic of New(ish) Convert Felix with Anziano Ferrara and I, rocking his best looking African Suit, which he says he can get for us!

Anziano Toronto out finding where the people are... Can't tell you how shocking a big white American missionary who can dunk in missionary clothes (unfortunately not pictured here), is to Italian street ballers... but captured in the video, and throwing the alley-oop is a great friend we made this week from Belgium! He is 15, plays on the Belgian National 15U team, and is an absolute stud. Despite a language barrier, we had a solid conversation with his dad who speaks Italian, about the church and what we're doing here... Turns out he knows some members in Belgium, so I told him to go back and find out a bit more about them and the Church! Like Dad, I used Instagram this week as a missionary tool, sending my Belgian baller to my profile telling him we'd talk for real in a year and a half when I get back, and that he can see what I'm doing as a missionary on Instagram!

All my love, from Italia on this wonderful transfer Monday!

Vi Voglio Bene!

Anziano Toronto II  ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น