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, July 3, 2017

Troughs and Peaks

Current Pescara Bravi, with Anziano Ferrara, e Sorelle Dustin and Aranas
A little reflection on the week, edited slightly, but I wanted you to understand how I'm doing.

An interesting phenomenon spoken of in CS Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters", is what's called the Law of Undulation. In effect, we are never staying put, but instead are constantly progressing or regressing. At the same time, we are in a series of troughs and peaks-- whether those refer to our success, exact obedience, language, or health. This week was a definite trough in success. We received bidone (cancelled lesson) after bidone, and no matter how many people we talked to or smiled at, we weren't able to find someone with real interest in our message. Yet with the lowest of all troughs, when it comes to the science of physics, there exists the highest potential energy, or potential growth. Anziano Ferrara and I had a rough week, but we look forward to another one, knowing our rough week is nothing compared to the suffering our Savior experienced in Gethsemane.

One peak of the week was Zone Conference which was fantastic. It was themed around the General Conference talk "Onward and Upward" given by President Kimball in 1979. In the address, it speaks of plateaus we reach, and how we must consciously choose to propel ourselves onward and upward. What plateaus have you settled on and in what ways can you move yourselves onward and upward?! I invite you to reflect on the talk, and react to those promptings that come. Jump off those plateaus, and go climb some mountains!

As I reflect on my first 6 months of service, there are certainly things I'm proud of, and those of which I am not, and wish to improve upon in the next 17 or so. 

One thing I still struggle with, even to this day, is regressive drive. After a while, no after no takes its toll. There's an even more vicious cycle, in which you find someone who seems interested, listens to what you have to say, even gives you their number, and then never responds to your calls. I have yet to find the solution for the inevitable frustration that results from this phenomenon.  Mission is more than 50% finding. You are simply out walking and talking for much of the day. This takes its toll mentally and emotionally, as you truly desire for the salvation of those you meet, but they want nothing to do with the message of hope you have. Member referrals are pretty rare in Italy, due to the lack of super strong members. 70-80% of baptisms are found in the street or at English Course, instead of the opposite occurring in America, where 70-80% are based off of member referrals. 

Satan's most effective tool in this mission is telling you two things, "you COULD talk to that person, but they'll just tell you the same thing every one else does, that they aren't interested, or that "what you're doing is a nice thing, but I'm Catholic and that's how I'd like to stay"," or "you're too tired to go out and do finding for the next 3 hours, you won't find anyone to teach, or that will want to be baptized..." I still don't have the answers, at least the perfect ones, but I'm willing to continue to work to try to find them, and that's what makes the difference for the next 17 months. I will face discouragement literally every day, but the yes's in between the dozens of no's make it bearable. I also find comfort in the PMG paragraph, "No Effort is Wasted". As I work, no matter if they accept or not, I've done my part, and will be blessed for doing so. Eventually, maybe even tomorrow, I'll find and investigator I can teach and baptize, but until that happens I'll be looking for him or her, and praying for the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

I think all of that can be summed up in a sentence, that "Missionary work is the hardest thing I've ever done." Everyone tells me it will be the most rewarding thing I'll ever do, but I'm still working on seeing that side of it. It's certainly harder for me to understand how I've been changed by the mission, and oftentimes the personal rewards come unseen. I think the rewarding piece comes in hindsight, and I'm not sure I can fully appreciate it right now. 

Despite all the doom and gloom, there is joy and happiness out here in Italy. There will be a baptism on Saturday for an investigator the Sorelle are teaching, and I had the chance to conduct her baptismal interview on Sunday. As she testified to me the truths she had come to know, and I responded with my own personal testimony, I was overjoyed with how prepared she truly was for this "next step". Anziano Ferrara and I get along really well, so that's another positive! This week I have a goal to focus on more positive thinking, and to accept rejection with a smile, we'll see how it goes!

All things considered, I'm doing great, and look forward to another 17 months in the Lord's service! I am grateful for your constant support! 

All my love from a lovely fishing town in L'Italia, 

Anziano Toronto II 🇮🇹

Gathering of old MTC District friends,
including Sorelle Manning and Rhoades,
and Anziani Maytham, Gibson, and Hinckley.

Combined Roma Est e Ovest Zones

The Roma Anziani

Preparation for Zone Conference musical number

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