Monday, May 8, 2017

There and Back Again: A Missionary's Tale by Elder Cannon

May 1, 2017 

It has been a crazy two years! I use that adjective in lots of my emails because there is no other word that better describes the huge array of emotions and experiences I have been through, from getting a headache trying to understand the Sicilian language and a stomach ache trying to eat their enormous portions of food, to trying not to stress out having to give big lessons with no preparation at all, to the sweet joy of walking into a baptismal font that was warmed up by the Spirit. There is no other way I would have spent this time. Every sacrifice has already been repaid tenfold. It has been a course correction that will affect me for eternity.
I am grateful for every sweaty, exhausted, awkward, uncomfortable second that has spiritual edified, or built up, me or someone else. I am grateful for Bagheria, Rome, Bari, Ladispoli, and Malta and everything each one of my eleven companions have done for the work there. I am grateful to have seen the hand of the Lord at work in two special countries. I have been grateful to have been able to work for the salvation of others and invite them to come to Christ. I am grateful that the Gospel is simple.
I rejoice that fear can be conquered, charity never faileth, hearts can change, sin can be overcome, and the good will win in the end. I know that the very ground I stepped on was sacred, for others because of the importance of my calling, and for me because of what that calling meant to me.

This last week could be accurately summed up by the scripture Helaman 3:25!!!

And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.

I know that the Lord’s work is going forward. In the words of Henry B. Eyring, it is "without fanfare". It is not often trending on Twitter or on the front page of the newspaper. But it is truly glorious!

I'll end with some of my favorite words in the hymn book, which are so true for all missionaries:

"Fear not, I am with thee
O be not afraid
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand."

If you are not a member of our church, I invite you to do something to come closer to Christ.  If you are a member, I invite you to consider the meaning of an "every day missionary".  If you are a missionary and especially if you are nearing the end of your mission, I invite you to take a BYU cross country motto to heart and "finish strong"!!!

-Elder/Anziano/Anzjan Ethan Cannon

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 98 "Ours is better"

April 24, 2017

"Ours is better."

That’s what a lady said to us at her doorstep yesterday when she found out that our church is not her church. I scanned through preach my gospel this morning but there was nothing listed to combat that in the "witty comebacks" section.

What an awesome time! Elder Burgos is the bomb. He is a super hard worker and he makes me laugh all the time. I'm so glad he got sent to Malta.

One of my favorite lessons this week was with M, a friend of ours in the south area that we taught while still in a trio. He understands everything so well, the Spirit has really opened up his mind and heart. He even wants to translate the Book of Mormon into Maltese!! Well, we are happy for his desire, and hope one day it will be fulfilled.

One cool thing I learned this week was yesterday talking to a man from the Philippines. He hasn't been to church in a while. He is from the same region as my companion but thankfully they decided to speak in English, not their dialect! Anyway, as we taught him I realize that he (but all of us, really) needed to fix himself, not his circumstances, so he could come back to church. In Italian, there is the verb "circondare", to surround. I told our friend that it is a great miracle that our salvation does not depend on the things (or circumstances) that surround us. A loving God has provided a way that our salvation and our happiness are determined by the choices and attitudes that WE have.

Wow, time flies! I can't believe I am over halfway done with my mission!*


Elder Cannon

*My guilty pleasure is saying half-truths like this so people won't
think I'm as near the end of my mission as I actually am.

Anziano Burgos and I

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Weeks 95 to 97

April 3, 2017

I got my first taste of watching women's conference this week when I called up a friend who doesn't come to church and invited her to attend conference. She told us she could come at 11:00 on Saturday (when in Europe conference isn't going on) and I made a split-second decision to say that yes, she could come and watch conference then. So, we did. She also brought her genius and awesome 10-year-old son, who we really hope can join the church.

The mission right now is putting a big focus on finding young adults.  We are doing that here on Malta, and one day found ourselves at the university talking to people, when we passed by the theology department. Elder Grizzell and I had previously gone to try and make an appointment to teach about our church in some way or another. But the previous time, no one had been there. This day, we were greeted by a professor in her office and spoke to her about what we were hoping for. I'll just say the Spirit took over because the situation was very intimidating. I haven't even attended college in a couple of years, and this lady seemed like the type that would know English as her second language better than I do as my first. But it went quite well, we ended up talking about presenting "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", and she was interested in it!

We had another good lesson with A. He had unsuccessfully tried to change his work to finish at 4 am on Sundays instead of 6 to be able to come to church, but he will try again. And yesterday, we hope he attended conference on holiday in Sweden like he had wanted to!


Anzjan Cannon

Spring on Malta

April 10, 2017

Zone conference was incredible. We got a great addestramento [training] from my cousin, on the Book of Mormon.  The assistants always seem to know just what we need. I also got to go on scambio with Anziano Boerne. I was super excited to hear he was moved to be our Zone Leader this transfer. I actually played an intramural basketball game with him at BYU (in the which we got destroyed) but had never served with him. He was really inspiring and awesome. He's not the most outgoing, loud person ever, but it is clear that he has made the decision to be a good missionary and the Lord has helped him to do so. He took every single opportunity possible to talk to people about the Gospel. At zone conference, we got Books of Mormon that we were supposed to give away before going home, and we gave both of ours away without even doing any planned "finding". One of the biggest things I have taken from that experience could be summed up in a scripture I recently read where the Lord speaks to Nephi and gives him the sealing power: "And thou hast not feared them". Sometimes on buses I'll talk quietly to someone so nobody hears or gets annoyed or whatever, but I've enjoyed this weekend trying to speak (almost) obnoxiously loud as I talk to people on buses in the hope that someone else hears and might be benefited!

I really love our members. Saturday night our friend H brought her kids to dinner with the O family. I was really surprised that brother O had made lasagna just for M, the nine-year-old who really loves lasagna. I wouldn't have even thought of that!

Our plane back from zone conference was at 9:30 at night. It had been a long day, and I knew I smelled bad. So, I used a practice from my former life and used the free test cologne from the Emporio Armani stand in the airport. It was the most expensive and good smelling thing I had ever put on myself!

Two new friends came to church in the south branch yesterday. We are super stoked about the growth there!

Elder Cannon

April 17, 2017

This week my companion went home so we've been in a trio. On Wednesday I will get a new companion, Anziano Burgos from the Philippines! He's a really good guy and I'm excited to work hard for a week and a half with him and hopefully get him up to speed on the work. I hope he can help with the Filipino less actives and the part member family that came to church yesterday for the first time since I've been here!

In DDM [district meeting?] I challenged the district to follow spiritual promptings. I felt like I was able to do that when I met a guy on a bus who was a born again Christian. He invited us to attend a church breakfast on good Friday. It sounded weird, but I felt to go for it. It was weird being the one that everyone was trying to fellowship and welcome.  Just a few nights later, at a branch farewell for A, I was reminded once again of how stressful parties are for missionaries as you try to help every nonmember, less active, shy person, new convert, etc. feel comfortable. At the service and breakfast, I was able to sit next to one guy who just so happened to not be super grounded in that religion. Now, it's obviously not a good idea to do proselyting inside other people's churches, but I didn't really do much of anything. He told me he lives a couple minutes away from the church and had gone with his wife to try and find a schedule of when we hold our services, but hadn't found it and gave up. I was super excited! We didn't try to preach to him or anything, he already wanted to come.

I learned a lot about charity this week as we taught with the Hancocks, a former senior couple serving on Malta. They returned this week and spent their time visiting old contacts and members. We went with them to see J, a man who hasn't come to church in a while. Elder Blaylock and I had visited him a few months ago, and he seemed a little closed off. However, the Hancocks have formed a great relationship with him and he was a lot more receptive with them to spiritual things.

They take Easter pretty seriously on Malta. Without having planned it, I ended up being where Christ comes to visit the Nephites in my personal study. I'm grateful for His gift of life to all of us.  And while everyone on Malta knows about Him, they certainly don't actually know Him, and what He can help us to do in this life and the next. So, I'm super lucky to tell them! And so are you!


Presbiteru Cannon

No!!! But yes!! On the left is A, who President Pickerd set apart yesterday as the first Maltese missionary ever to serve from Malta. We will miss him so much. On the right are two Welsh YSA who will be out of town when I leave.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 94

March 27, 2017

What a week!

My new companion is Elder Redaelli, from Milano! He is my second companion from outside the states and my first Italian. It's been great to relearn Italian in conversation with him without sacrificing the Maltese I speak with the natives. He is also my first convert companion. His family was baptized when he was nine. He spent some of his life inactive, but now is spiritually strong and mature (literally as well - he is physically strong and almost 24).

This week on the bus we met a member from Brazil! It was the third member we had randomly met who was living on Malta in the past couple weeks. The fact that he hadn't gone to the work of looking up the location of the church on the Internet didn't bode well for him actually coming once we told him.  But I was super surprised because before church on Sunday morning he called and told us "the bus still hasn't come yet...don't worry, I'll call a taxi!" He did and he showed up! We were stoked.

Yesterday was a miracle. I taught Maltese gospel principles on my own.  My companion was S, a Maltese member. O, who was baptized a few weeks ago, basically helped co-teach. We talked about the plan of salvation, and I was really amazed that for the first time in Maltese I really felt the spirit as I spoke. It was so cool. On a side note, I really do love O. My love for him has grown as I am able to communicate with him better and better.

Quote of the week:  "I want to get baptized on Sunday!" From a former friend of ours in Bari that we met at a gesso [street contact] and who we taught once but was NOT ready at the time for the lessons.  He had kept his Libro di Mormon and remembered us.  He called the missionaries up just recently and asked to be baptized. Obviously, his wish was not granted, but he has been preparing himself for that event.

Another cool thing: we got off a bus and met two super cool French kids about our age. Their mom used to take the lessons and they know Mormons really well. So, they invited us to come over! We had an appointment but will visit them this week. As we were talking to them, a couple came up to us and asked "hey Elders, when is sacrament meeting tomorrow?" It was a British couple on vacation. We felt super overwhelmed and happy about all that.

I hope you all prepare for, learn from, and LOVE general conference!


Anzjan Cannon

Unlike my companion Elder Grizzell, Elder Pineau didn't have to leave 
for the airport during sacrament meeting, so I actually got a picture him.  
[Ethan doesn’t like to take pictures unless it is P-day]

[Angel Moroni finally atop the Rome temple!]

Friday, March 24, 2017

Week 93

March 20, 2017
Another one bit the dust yesterday as my companion elder Grizzell couldn't take the heat of working with me (just kidding! he honorably finished 2 years as a missionary and went home to Chicago)! 

I was fasting yesterday which turned out to be quite helpful for being more spiritually in-tune because I was on the spot having to do a lot of stuff. We stayed in the other elders' house the night before (miracle of the day: I have never slept better on couch cushions) so Elder Grizzell could get to the airport in the morning.  The next morning, I spoke in the south branch sacrament meeting. Next, I taught Sunday school in Maltese with the branch president, and then spoke again in the north sacrament meeting.

After church, we went to a couple investigators they have in the south. I was super impressed! One was a family of nine people!!! The kids are all young adults and are very well educated. Teaching in a trio went surprisingly well, and hopefully the Spirit did most of the teaching anyway. Later we saw another family. It was a Maltese man and a Filipino woman. They were really great people. Their faith was incredible, I rarely see anyone who understands the Restoration and accepts it so quickly. But they did! Then they gave us spring rolls and an envelope with 10 euros to help with transportation costs which we had to refuse three times!

In Maltese, the words for "winner" and "spring" are almost the same. I know it sounds weird, but this really touched me when I discovered it. I love springtime because we get to celebrate the biggest win of all time, when Jesus Christ conquered sin and death through His miraculous atonement!


Anzjan Cannon

The Baptism

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Weeks 90 to 92

February 20, 2017

First of all, a shout out to my five-year-old sister Elissa who would do a way better job fellowshipping some of the friends we are working with right now than I do. Last night I showed a picture of her after she lost a tooth to B, who is her same age and has her first loose tooth. They asked is Elissa might ever come on holiday... Yea, we'll see about that.

Miraculously we were able to get both her and her brother to say prayers for our lesson, and, at the end of the lesson, M asked if he could come to our church on Sunday! That was super awesome, because our church is not the coolest or most fun place for your typical 9-year-old boy to go on Sunday.  I'm grateful that the Spirit was able to touch him, too.

As a follow up about the FHE dinner from last Monday, unfortunately, O had car problems and was super sad he couldn't come. So, we were there with the Swiss visitors and a non-member woman who comes to church with her son. The food was great, I tried rabbit and sword fish for the first time. If any of you know how fast I can eat, this time it came back to bite me because I also had a dessert that I thought had included "cherry" but really was "sherry" and by the time my chef companion found out, it was too late.

On Friday we had one of the best lessons ever, with A. We taught the gospel of Christ and it came out like melted butter, totally with the Spirit. He basically invited himself to be baptized and we were so impressed at how the spirit taught him during the pauses. You really can be the smartest person in the world and use every analogy or object lesson to convey a point, but if the Spirit doesn't teach it to them, they will never learn.

The Sabbath day! "The Sabbath is a sign between me and you... That ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." (Exodus 31:13) So the Sabbath is not just a sign we make to the Lord of our obedience. It is also His sign to us that he can sanctify us. I know there is no cleanliness or renewal I can receive on a weekly basis that at all measures up to what I feel during sacrament meeting or on Sunday in general!

Our branch mission plan is:

1. Be a witness
2. Be a friend 
3. Be a believer. 

Ideas for these:

1. Tell someone "and that's one reason why I love my church!" This week. Invite them to do something. 
2. Contact an investigator outside of church (you guys probably do this anyway). Do your home teaching. 
3. We are taking a different spin but if people pray in faith with real intent to have opportunities to act, it's that simple. 


Anziano Cannon

At the Mosta dome today. This is near our current church. The hope is 
that we expand and build a chapel on the plot of land we own!

February 27, 2017

Saturday was one of those days you have a couple times in your mission where you have no scheduled appointments. So we thought and thought and prayed about what we could do for finding. And then, boom! The idea came. Scriptural horoscopes, taken from the bible but mainly the Book of Mormon! So that afternoon we found ourselves handing out "scriptascopes" in Valletta, the capital city, on one of the craziest holidays of the year called Karnival. The place was packed with costumed people and floats. But we had a great time and met some really great people! As a side note, my favorite costume by far were a couple of young teenage girls who had black, long-sleeved shirts which said "modest and perfect" in French. I'm glad there are still people like that outside of our church. 

Yesterday O passed his baptismal interview. He proudly told another non-member friend who comes to church: "I'm getting baptized on WEDNESDAY and YOU'RE next!" 

The primary was smaller than it sometimes has been but I was quite impressed. Little M totally remembered the story of the Tree of Life which we had taught him and his mom using the illustrated Book of Mormon! 

As we got on the bus to go home from church, I didn't see many people to talk to, and ended up sitting near a lady who looked asleep. I said hi but she didn't respond. After my companion and I talked for a couple of minutes, she woke up and told us she "used to be Mormon". Well, she still is by our standards ha-ha. She had prayed earlier that day that God would send her someone to heal her. I felt the pressure of what God has sent us to do but gratitude that, as a missionary, cool stuff like this happens every day. In a polite way, I said "look lady we can't do anything for you but the Gospel is the best medicine you could ever take!" We hope she comes to the baptism on Wednesday.  It will be the first baptism in Maltese in a few years! 

This week I have been thinking about a phrase from the Book of Mormon. I used to think that you had to come to church on Sunday having repented of all your sins. Then I would get frustrated when I would do them again the next week. I realize now that repentance is important, but it often takes much more than just a week. If we have a "favorite sin", then we aren't fully repentant yet, because when we are really there, we will have no more desire to do evil. What a great state to be in! 


Anziano Cannon 


Went to a museum about Malta's military history today. SO. COOL. I feel so much 
Malta pride now. The siege against the Knights was built up to be super insane. 

Outside the museum, at fort st. Elmo 

March 6, 2017  

ħsibijiet fuq il-ħobż.  That means "thoughts over bread", which is quite delicious here in Malta I might add.

It was one small step for the branch, and one giant leap for our friend O when he got baptized on Wednesday! There are pros and cons to doing a baptism in a hotel. One pro was the Polish women who were watching from behind the glass wall and who we invited to come in. They didn't speak much English but enjoyed it and in a typical European way took nonsensical pictures of themselves with the papers that had the music lyrics on them. Whatever.  The downside was that the hot tub every once in a while, made a ferocious sucking noise and then there was the general atmosphere of being in a sauna. But a baptism is a baptism! He was so happy to finally take the step.

Yesterday was quite fun. We have a new American family with five boys!  They actually come from my aunt and uncle’s ward! We were excited to have lots of new faces but then I realized that the Maltese people had gone upstairs and didn't have a teacher since the branch president was gone with his son as he received his endowent. So, we just ran up there and started teaching on the spot (about the gift of the Holy Ghost which O was about to receive). After brother V arrived to take over, we went down stairs where a primary teacher told us she hadn't prepared her lesson so could we please do sharing time instead? Once again, and in a very different language, I feel like the Lord filled our mouths with what to say and to teach the kids about prophets. A third instance of this happening was in sacrament meeting, where my companion and I bore our testimonies in Maltese, English, and Italian to accommodate the needs of our friends who had come.

After church we went to lunch with the P family and H.  It was super cool. Being the typical African mother that she is, she made sure her kids behaved well, but I think they did fine by saying things like "this is the best day ever!"

Respect moment of the week goes to D, our member friend from the bus last week. We called her yesterday and the first thing she said was "where are you?" We happened to be in her city so she had us come over immediately. We told her we couldn't be in her house without someone else there but she had no problem, she just set two chairs out in the hallway and sat on the stairs while we talked! It was great!

This week we taught H about fasting, so I had the opportunity to study it a good bit. I think fasting shows us how we are supposed to live.  Alma 34:28 explains in depth the scripture "blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy". Often, we think of fasting as a way to magnify our prayers, and I would agree with that.  When you are fasting, you are usually involved in activities where you are taking care of others such as paying a fast offering and doing Sabbath day service. Heavenly Father is then more able to answer your prayers to Him. Isaiah 58 also talks about how we should be happy to fast.  Fasting shows us how even when we don't have our temporal desires (such as food), we can still be happy if we have a Christ-centered life!


Anziano Cannon

We actually got to see mass in Maltese!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Week 89

February 13, 2017

This week was so good. Yesterday, a mom and her daughter came to church from Switzerland. They are super cool and into missionary work and tonight they are taking us to a buffet dinner with them and our friend O at their fancy hotel! So cool! I feel kind of guilty :/

Yesterday was super crazy though. We had to do member splits because we wanted to be in seven places at once. In primary we joined the circus and gave everyone personalized name tags. The idea came from little M, who told us he would listen to our lesson with his mom on Tuesday if we would give him one of our name tags to wear. My companion then taught gospel principles while I snuck in a Preach My Gospel lesson with O and a member. He is so awesome. This week people have been looking around for a hotel to baptize him in on March

We were so happy that H came with her kids because she almost didn't come! She is going through really hard stuff right now and it is a miracle that she is reading the Book of Mormon when she can't sleep, trying to tranquilize her kids at church, and being the one to set up appointments with us.

Saturday, we went to Gozo [another island in the Maltese archipelago]! It is sooo pretty. It's unreal. It was a huge miracle that we found one of the two members on the island on the ferry ride there! We were able to teach her during the boat ride.

Sometimes we feel like we are on a different planet (Tatooine, for example). It's just funny cuz there is a famous type of fish here and when our friend O first said the name it just sounded like we were really living in Star Wars.  It's pronounced "lampooki". Just repeat that and tell yourself again that Malta isn't really that far away.

We went back to our Maltese family and met two other family members.  It's so fascinating how sometimes you will tell some people about the restored gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ being on the earth again and they'll say something like "thank you. Yes. It's so true."  Sometimes it’s because they're not listening; other times people will just not understand. But these people show incredible comprehension. One of the kids (who are all in their 20s), told us something like "this could change our lives". And I was like "um yea it could! Thank you!"


Presbiteru Cannon

The aforementioned scene