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, February 20, 2017

La Mano di Dio

Famiglia Diletta,

What a week! Every night as I looked back on the day, I marveled at how precisely the Lord had used us as instruments in his hands. For this reason we must finely tune ourselves to the voice and promptings of his Holy Spirit, for without this, we lack the ability to carry out the Lord's work. Can an Italian cook pasta with water, a bowl, and a microwave? Almost certainly, but they are far more effective with a pot, stove, salt, and other herbs and spices. Thus the Lord asks us to be his personal spices, accomplishing HIS work, in the ways that HE sees fit. Let us not be unwieldy microwaves in his hands...

This week my faith was put to the test on many occasions, and each time the Lord helped me be there to answer the call. The first, occurred Wednesday. While the Zone Leaders, Anziani Berger and Chilvers held Zone Leadership Conference with Anziano Rodriguez and the rest of the Catania district leaders, I led a group of effectively new missionaries to Piazza Stesicoro to gesso. Brief explanation: lay down a dark colored sheet on the ground, place un Libro di Mormon on all the corners, and begin to draw with chalk. The other three Anziani I was with, Vance, Moscon, and Albright, each professed no skill with the quill, or chalk, in this case, and so I began to think what would draw attention that I could render effectively. We decided on the slowly, yet surely progressing Rome temple. I began to draw, and the others began to answer questions.

Drawn by Yours Truly :)

As I drew, I picked out bits of conversations occurring around me, and to my surprise, I understood much of what was being said. I concluded drawing, passed the chalk off, and began finding. Truly the Lord blesses those who open their mouths proclaiming his word, because I proceeded to have discussion after discussion, each improving upon the last. Dozens of bigliettini were dispersed and I even had the opportunity to hand out a few books of Mormon, with the conditional promise that they would read and pray to determine it's veracity. I had an absolute Blast!

The work in Catania moves with the speed of the BRT1 bus Anziano Rodriguez and I take almost everyday—sometimes seemingly unmoving in dense traffic, and others pedal to the medal, throwing caution to the wind. After a slightly frustrating start to the week, the BRT1 began to fly down a hill with no end in sight. We had lessons in which our investigators professed sincere desire to be baptized, despite professed impossibility just a few days earlier. We had investigators cancel lessons, only to be replaced with the opportunity to meet with part-member, but less active families. We had 5 investigators in church on Sunday, and that is paltry compared to the number I believe we will have 2 or 3 weeks from now. Anziano Rodriguez and I continue to have faith, trusting that the Lord will consecrate our efforts, and continually bless us for our obedience. Twice this week, we have hopped off the bus and immediately began a sprint for home, making it just inside the 9:30 commandment. We strive in everything we do to qualify for the presence of the Spirit, and the Lord's guiding hand.

With this success, however, comes the struggle with which all new missionaries face, that of the language. Siciliani speak with a slurred, seemingly inebriated dialect that even for a fluent Italian is difficult to decipher at times, let alone a fresh outta the MTC Minnesota ragazzo. Take heart in knowing I'm trying every single day. I speak with everyone, and already, I can see a difference in my comprehension and comfortability. My expectations were far higher than they should have been, but I know, thanks to the gift of tongues, and divine intervention, I am already taking strides far beyond the typical new missionary. I will continue to grow in confidence, sometimes unto arrogance, and the Lord will humble me, and I will continue to learn. Already, I love this language, and I'm willing to put in the work to communicate the significance of my message! Trust me when I say, I'm grateful for the struggle!

Every single day, when I wake up to the sound of Catania in the early morning, and my all too cheerful alarm clock, I'm grateful to be in the place God has called me. He knows me specifically, and he knows each of you specifically. Of that I testify. Linga, Sri, and Rajish were guided to the missionaries despite growing up Hindu, Buddhist, and Non-denominational Christian. Each are preparing to be baptized on March 11th, with Alfio Visalli, a former investigator who came back to the missionaries searching again for the answers he was given years ago by two other missionaries. The Lord loves his sons and daughters and provides for them the means of success. Like Psalms directs, place your trust in his will, and then will your confidence wax strong in him!

I love each of you, and hearing from you is the highlight of my Monday. (Except for 6:00 when I get to start missionary work again!)

Vi Voglio Bene,

Anziano Toronto II

Some awesome graffiti made just for me (CYT), like, how cool is that?!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Opening the Golden Envelope

After arriving in Rome, President Pickard gave Anziano Toronto a golden envelope
containing the geographic area where he will serve first.

Famiglia Diletta,

As many or all of you have already heard, I have been sent to the beautiful island of Sicily, in the city of Catania. Words can't describe how joyful I am to be in the incredible land of my ancestors, and to be teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to my beloved Italian brothers and sisters.

A few notes before I talk about Catania and the work:

The flight was a nightmare, simply because I couldn't sleep. I took far more than the suggested dose of Benadryl, and closed my eyes, but for the better part of 9 hours, sleep evaded me. All was forgotten however, when I stepped out of the plane onto Italian soil. It truly felt like I was returning home, despite never visiting. We arrived to find Presidente Pickerd waiting for us, along with Sorella Pickerd, Fratello Guercio, and Anziani Rosenburg and Battaglia. The latter are true rockstars... Anziano Rosenburg in many ways reminds me of Simeon, a true testament to his character. Anziano Battaglia defines quiet dignity and humility. Together they provide a powerful 1, 2 AP punch. That day was quite the blur. We toured the temple site, and much of Rome, but the highlight was finding. We were given pass along cards, and a Book of Mormon, and told to talk. Much easier said than done, but it was a blast.

Wednesday passed in the same way, with training and the like, and in the evening we each received our assignments.

Thursday, was travel, and that was about it... The late evening I arrived, met my trainer, Anziano Rodriguez, and had english course, what a blessing that was!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were true missionary work days, filled with the joy of teaching, finding, and learning.

Investigator highlight of the week:

We are teaching three Indian friends, Sri, Linga, and Rajish, and love doing so. The each speak English, which is much easier for me, and yesterday evening, we invited each of them to pray to know if they should be baptized on March 11th. Each of their faith in Jesus Christ is incredible, and they are building my testimony in leaps and bounds.

The language is tough, and that is putting it mildly. I struggle to follow basic conversations, but know that will come with time! I love trying, and will always continue to do so.

I have no time, and must run to email the president, but I love each of you!

Anziano Toronto

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Arrived Safe and Sound

We had a chance to briefly talk to Anziano Toronto while he sat in the Atlanta airport awaiting for his flight to Rome.  He was in great spirits despite very little sleep and bore a beautiful testimony in Italian.

President Pickerd sent us pictures of our missionary and a short message from Anziano Toronto after arriving to the motherland:

Made it safely, and will email you on Monday!

Love you,

Anziano Toronto II

Anziano Toronto in front of the Rome Italy Temple

Anziano Toronto with President and Sister Pickerd

Friday, February 3, 2017

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

Anziano Osmond and Anziano Toronto
Anziano Toronto heads for Italy Monday morning.  P-day was too crazy today to write a long letter but a sweet lady at the MTC took this picture of our dynamic duo.  The adventure is about to begin!