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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

S/O to Sergio


Not a ton to update on this week! No earthquakes, no fish eaten... rather boring actually, until p-day!

We woke up at 4 AM, (this is becoming a bad habit), and we hopped on a train headed for Ascoli Piceno, a city in which 2 Anziani in our district serve. We arrived in Ascoli at 7:05, and by 7:15 we were playing tennis with an ex-semi pro contact named Sergio that the Ascoli Anziani are teaching (see photo). What a blast!!! For the first time in 6 months I got to absolutely wail on a tennis ball, and after shaking off some major rust, I slid right back into form. My serve clicked, and it was if I had never left the court... the Lord truly blesses his servants who make sacrifices😁

Although I didn't manage to pull off the victory with Anziano Mayer, who had never before played tennis, I did manage a little better with Anziano Ferrara, who was, in his own words, "a High School PE all-star"! I cannot tell y'all how fun it was being out on that court again, but, like everything else, I leave it again to serve... A serve that gets rusty through service is a serve easily regained, let that be an extremely profound lesson for all of us this week😉

Other highlights included lunch at another contact's pizzeria, where we ate, wait for it... not pizza! Instead we had a variety of meats, including pork, steak, and last, but in the taste category certainly not least, rabbit! (Also for those concerned for my health back home, I ate some salad too...)

Also a steaming highlight has to be the Gesù statue, only slightly less famous than that found in Rio Di Janeiro, which required a substantial hike to summit. The view was well worth the many ounces of sweat lost along the way!

The only negative thing I could possibly say about how things are going, would be the heat. Regularly during the day, temperatures hover in the mid 90s, and being on the sea, humidity is a definite factor. I don't know that I've ever sweat in my life as much as I've sweat in the last two weeks, literally holy buckets😥

Sweat is a small price to pay for the great work we're undertaking here in Pescara, and I can't wait to sweat some more this week!

All my love,

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

Monday, June 19, 2017


Fam and Friends,

▪Monday night, after a disappointing lesson with Giovanni Bellavia (see about 2 transfers ago), we received our transfer calls from President Pickerd. I happened to be driving so I passed the phone over to Anziano Alexander who was with us as a trio following Anziano Bertoldos departure for home. He received the news that Anziano Allen would be joining him in Catania, and he couldn't have been more psyched! Following this, the phone was passed to Anziano Kolsen, who as we had guessed, was to receive a new missionary in Catania, (he will have a lot of fun training!), and then I pulled over, now knowing for a certainty that I was leaving Cat-City... President Pickerd informed me I would be heading clear up to Pescara, to follow-up train Anziano Ferrara and be District Leader, I was somewhat blown away! The next few days were filled with goodbyes, to both members who had raised me, and the city that did the same. Highlight had to be pranzo Wednesday afternoon at who else, but la famiglia Rochira. An incredible pistacchio lasagna, followed by legendary Sorella Rochira mystery meat roll ups, capped off with some gelato, sealed what were an incredible 4 months in Catania! The next morning, after waking up at 4 to get people to the airport, I hopped on my train, alone, headed for Termini. I sat down, and began to think, and think, and think, about all I had accomplished in those three transfers, my successes, the miracles, my regrets, and every day in between. This one hurt a little more than leaving home... I was distracted by the stopping of the train in Giarre, and a young man who got on, and sat down across from me. I began to small talk him, and we ended up having quite the Gospel Conversation with him and another man across the aisle. An hour or so passed, I moved, seeking a nap, but didn't get one thanks to another young man who sat himself down 2 seats to my right. Knowing I wouldn't be able to sleep if I didn't at least try to talk to him, I asked him why he was headed up to Rome. This simple question led to a 3 hour exchange of beliefs with a 25 year old, ex-catholic, now atheist, aspiring law student at Sappienza, who very cordially cited Agrippa's words to Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian," at the end of our time together. While these two conversations came with no baptism date, no accepted Book of Mormon, nor even a desire to learn more, It served two purposes. The first was to plant a seed that may not be ready to grow now, but a missionary one day will reap the benefit, and the second was a confidence boost in my ability to speak and communicate effectively in Italian! Coherence in an English theological discussion is difficult enough, throw on a language you've had about 5 months to learn, and you shouldn't get a pretty result, but the Gift of Tongues is real folks!

▪I arrived and headed straight over to the GANS Center with Anziano Melling, where we met the Thackers (GANS Center senior couple), and held English Course. It was so funny seeing the faces of those who had been introduced to the GANS Center through Simeon, and who remembered him so vividly, then met me! I got to be a GANziano for a night, what an awesome experience that was!!

▪The rest of the night was a blur of wrestling, laughing, joking, and eating as 11 Anziani slept in the GANS Center Anziani's house, including Anziani Draghi e Friedman, Farinotti e Olsen, Ridd e Boscon, Melling e Cates, Smith e Hinckley, e yours truly! The next morning I hopped on a bus out to Pescara and the rest is history!

The week flew by, but a few introductions points...

▪Anziano Ferrara - From Cali, trained by Anziano Chugg, football player, 3rd transfer, great guy, we'll have a blast out here!

▪Rest of the District is composed of Ascoli Anziani, featuring Anziano Parkinson and Mayer, and Sorelle in Pescara and L'Aquila, Sorelle Dustin and Aranas, Taylor and Palacios...

▪Pescara ward features about 75 active members including an incredible Vescovo Salvatori, (on who's Facebook Page one would find a pair of comical pictures with the two of us and Anziano Parkinson, as always, referring to my height), his son Roberto the Ward Mission leader, an absolute stud, and Fratello Conforte, who unless I'm mistaken, has been a mission President in both Catania and Padova!

For the first time sending my love from a place not in Sicilia!

Vi Voglio Bene,

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

Pic with Anziani Alexander and Kolsen

Monday, June 12, 2017

One Miracle, One Awesome Story

Dear Family,

We saw a few miracles and did some awesome stuff which I will quickly cover, but it was also a preparation week, working with the shadow of an almost certain transfer hanging over us.

First one miracle, then one awesome story.

Miracle: I got a call from a recently activated member today, and despite protests by others to leave the call, I picked up, and began to talk. As Pino talked to me, asking if we could help with a home teaching visit later this week, I worked out a time that we both were available, and said regardless of whether I would be there or not, there would be Anziani to help him out. Then, just as I was about to hang up, I felt impressed to ask a favor from this member. Two transfers ago, a man left the church, swearing to never have anything to do with it again, largely as a result of actions made by missionaries and members. Since he left, any attempt at contact or reconciliation has been met with a cold shoulder, and non-response. I asked Pino, as he was about to end the call, to shoot a text to this man, letting him know we missed him and loved him. Pino called back a little over an hour later, and told us he had responded to him, and had declared similar feelings. I literally almost dropped the phone, recognizing the hand of the God instantly. I asked Pino to send another message, asking if we could visit him the man tonight, knowing that it was a long shot, but wanting to put this again in the Lord's hands. As he tends to do, the Lord came through, and the man declared we were welcome to visit his home. I have been trying to see this man for two transfers, and it isn't till now I've been given the opportunity to do so. I am still somewhat stunned as I write out this miraculous blessing.

Awesome Story: This week, Anziano Kolsen and I had the chance to drive up to Bronte, clear on the other side of Etna again, to visit Angelo, our pistachio farmer investigator. I have never had a cooler lesson in my life. Angelo is a spiritual giant, and the question with him, isn't IF he'll be baptized, but when. He accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the peace that accompanies it, along with the invitations we gave him. Featured are pictures of me with Angelo, and a pistachio tree in full bloom  (pretty dang cool)!

Tune in next week to find out about transfers, and to see where life takes me next!

All the best,

Anziano Toronto

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Lo Stesso- (The Same)

Just a pictures only kinda week!

Etna Excursion with Roy and other missionaries!

Fud is gud: A restaurant in which the menu is written how food names
should sound instead of how they're written...
Loved the solid smoked sandwich!