Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Week 4

June 24, 2015

One more week down, and I'm less than two weeks away from Italy! Yikes! 

On Thursday for gym we played soccer. It was a lot of fun to get outside. One of the anziani in our zone played for the Brazil U18 national soccer team. Emphasis on the word "Brazil". That is freaking crazy. 

That day we got to walk around the MTC and bear our testimonies to random people in Italian. It was really great. I was so thrilled to be able to actually talk, and not just be reciting stuff. In terms of how good my Italian is right now, it's hard to say. Unfortunately the only people we have to compare ourselves with is the other people in our district, which makes it really tough for those who are lagging behind. I think I'm about as good as I was after three and a half years or so of Spanish. And I am proud to say my Italian is now MUCH better than my Spanish. The languages are similar but there are small differences that make it impossible for me to speak that language any more. I tried to say the name "Francisco" four times and couldn't do it- in Italian it would be pronounced "Fran-CHI-sco". 

I was very inspired to hear about my brother coming home from his mission in Guatemala. From what I heard from my parents, he was incredibly hard working and obedient. I feel bad for people who don't understand that the way to be happy on your mission is not by bending all the rules you can to have a little extra fun. I have already had lots of joy because I have been able to focus so hard. We had a good devotional on Sunday. I was reminded that I shouldn't lower my expectations for my mission because of the generalized reputation of an entire continent (i.e. you won't get many baptisms in a European mission). I know that God is preparing people in Italy for me to teach right now, and I know that I don't have to be tied down to any numbers or averages if I go to work and have him on my side. Having said that, I also know I will learn to develop a positive attitude from the inevitable disappointments. 

Sunday was also my companion's birthday. I gave him a card and a protein bar, there's not too much more I could have done haha. The future mission presidents (over a hundred of them and their wives!) are coming today. They are going to be taught in the main building by the prophet and the apostles. Tomorrow we are going to be taught by one of the mission presidents in our districts. Our teacher also told us that the apostles are teaching districts too. Apparently one of the districts in our building is going to have Boyd K. Packer teach them for an hour. Is that crazy or what? I'm still sick, so I would appreciate any prayers you can offer. I know someone is praying for me though, because I have been so blessed so far. If this wasn't hard I wouldn't love it.


Anziano Cannon

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weeks 1 to 3

Ciao! Io non ho molto tempo parlare, ma- oh wait! I forgot I was speaking in Italian! Whoops! Hahaha just kidding I totally wish that was actually a problem. The Italian is coming along well but I am constantly humbled by how little I know. This first week has been crazy and difficult but very spiritual and rewarding as well. 
On Wednesday I woke up at 4:30 to catch my flight to Provo. I was actually kind of glad for this, because we were all so tired that I don't think any of us realized how sad we should be to say goodbye. Once I got to Provo my grandparents drove me to the MTC. I was rushed through a million things and received nametags, papers, and a MASSIVE freaking bag full of everything Italian (including a 200$ textbook, yikes!)

Within 5 minutes of being in the MTC I saw my BYU friend Elder Larsen! That was totally cool. You get to see pretty much everyone here at some point; I also got to see both Sister Jacksons (Sisters Jackson?) from my BYU ward on the first day. Elder Larsen told me Jeffrey R. Holland had come to speak at the devotional last night! I was so sad I missed it, but it was OK- I'll explain why later. Anyway, I got to class and met my district. I love them! There are six anziani [elders] and four sorelle [sisters]. I don't know the sorelle that well, but the anziani are great. It's so nice to be able to talk to them and unwind after our stressful classes. They all are super funny; I'm surprised how hard I've laughed since I've been here.  My companion is Anziano Topacio. He looks Hispanic, has an Italian last name, but is Filipino. He is a great guy. I have learned a lot from him. He was called to be the zone leader and is already doing an excellent job. We were actually in a tri-panionship the first two days with Anziano Penfold, whose companion was sick and didn't show up till Friday. Anziano Topacio has never finished reading the Book of Mormon. The other day I got to explain some cool parts of it to him; it made me really grateful I had awesome parents, seminary teachers, and Book of Mormon professors who helped me gain a greater understanding of that stuff. Still, it's not the most important thing. Anziano Topacio has a really strong testimony, which is what you really need.

Thursday was hard. We have to sit in class learning Italian for nine hours a day. It is super frustrating. Anziano Topacio never went to college but this is the fourth language he is learning, and he is soooo good at it. It is great motivation for me, he has really pulled me along. So about the food... It's ok. It's like the Cannon center at BYU. The problem is that we finish dinner at 6:15 every day, and they don't provide any food after that. Anziano Topacio and I are both very health conscious: neither of us have touched the desert bar all week. The other thing is that we both like working really hard during gym (me on the Precor and him with his weights) and as teenage boys we eat a crapton of food. So the idea of not having ANYTHING to eat between 6:15 and 10:30 was kind of disheartening- we decided to keep our chins up and just laugh it off when the "nurse" told us we could stay full by having our parents send us "healthy snacks" to eat in the dorms like popcorn. Hahaha. 

Friday was my hardest day. The rumors were true: we had to teach our first lesson to a person named Francesca who supposedly doesn't speak English. Once again I had to take Brother Schwartz's advice and be able to laugh at myself, in this case for how dumb we were. I was saying the closing prayer, so basically we were showing Francesca how to pray. Then I forget how to ask for blessings in Italian, so I had to grab the prayer book from my companion and look it up during the prayer. It was so bad; we were cracking up so hard, it's a wonder that Francesca kept a straight face. But each day since then we've taught her a lesson, and it has gotten much better.

Saturday got a little better. We were all completely drained by Saturday night during our 6:30 to 9:30 lesson. Fratello [Brother] Wortham (one of our teachers) could tell I guess so he had the anziani do a squat competition where you are up against the wall in a squat position. The four other anziani were long gone when Anziano Topacio and I gave each other a fist bump and sat down together. If that's not companionship unity, I don't know what is! ;) Then we read 2 Nephi 4, and he told us about his testimony of it. It was a great experience!
Sunday was a great spiritual day. Janice Kapp Perry came to give a devotional. I thought after singing the EFY medley which I think she wrote like seven thousand times, I wouldn't care anymore, but singing it with 900 other missionaries I felt the Spirit so strongly! It was so great. 

Yesterday I found out that our flight to Rome has a layover in Frankfurt! I know I won't actually get to do anything, but still it's cool that I'll have gotten to go to Germany. There was rumors a member of the Quorum of the Twelve would be at the devotional, however I was still shocked when D. Todd Christofferson walked in. We were sitting on the seventh row! You could just feel the Spirit emanating from him. I listened so closely the whole time! 

Anyway it's been one of the longest weeks of my life, sorry for the long email, I'm sure next weeks will be much less eventful. I miss running (what I would do to run up Provo Canyon right now), my family and friends, obviously, and a lot of other things. But there's no place I would rather be right now. I am so happy to be a missionary for my Heavenly Father.


Anziano Cannon

June 10, 2015

Day 14 and still going strong! Wednesdays are one of my favorite days because we have P-day and the new elders come. Last week my companion and I helped these two elders from Latin America with their suitcases. The one I talked to was from Guatemala, so it was super cool to tell him how my brother is just finishing his mission there. He hardly spoke any English, so I had to talk to him with my very rusty Spanish ;) Languages are super fun. I've picked up a few words in German and Japanese since I've gotten here, and I even learned how to say hi in Madagese (I think). There are two elders in the whole MTC that speak it (they are going to Madagascar).

On Friday I had to leave my companion to go with a few other Italian missionaries to Salt Lake City to do some visa stuff. It was a little scary but also fun to be out in the real world for the first time with my nametag on. I did my best to remember what I am representing now. Riding the train home I just stared out at the mountains the whole time. They're so beautiful right now. I guess I took the view out of my dorm window for granted in college! 

The Spirit is always present here. On Sunday we had a testimony meeting with the zone. It was nice to hear that I'm not the only one who doesn't find this the easiest thing I've ever done, because a lot of people talked about how difficult it is. But we all feel God's love and support and appreciate all your prayers! 

On Tuesday Linda K. Burton came to speak! She talked about being disciples of Christ. 

We haven't seen any new missionaries yet today, but when they come, they'll have orange stickers on their nametags so we know they're new. We're supposed to tell them "Welcome to the MTC." At first I think they appreciate it, but by the end of the day, it seems like it gets pretty old for them. So Anziano Topacio and I decided that whenever we see an orange sticker in the distance, he'll start whistling the Harry Potter theme and when we pass them, I'll say "Welcome to Hogwarts". It was pretty entertaining last week ;) 

I got to see my BYU friend Elder Pastor this week. I remember talking to him last semester. He seemed like he wanted to serve a mission, but I encouraged him a ton because he definitely didn't seem sure about it. So I was so proud to see him here, where I know he is supposed to be! 

Thanks for all your letters and food!


Anziano Cannon

June 17, 2015

Another great week, marred slightly by the sickness that I've been having recently. On Thursday I felt bad for my companion because at breakfast it was like a big BYU reunion with a bunch of my friends who I hadn't seen since I left college. I would list all of them, but there were honestly too many to name. It was so much fun! Fratello Wortham left today for Alabama for his ROTC. That makes me really sad, I love him! He made me want to be a better missionary. On Thursday we went around the room reciting word by word the First Vision, our Missionary Purpose, and the baptismal invite. We ended up with 2.5 "errors"- which meant that the anziani had to do 2.5 minutes of plank right there. Thank goodness we didn't do that a week earlier, or we would have been on the ground for half an hour! Haha. On Sunday I taught elder's quorum. I wouldn't have blamed anyone one bit for falling asleep - it's right after lunch and everyone is always exhausted. Instead it was a great lesson and the Spirit was really there. That night we watched a talk called "Character of Christ" by David A. Bednar. I would recommend it to everyone, but they probably restrict it to missionaries because if I can feel like I am not doing anything right while I am spending two years serving a mission, I can only imagine how you all would feel watching that talk ;) It was seriously like being shot with spiritual shotgun shells. But I enjoyed it.

One of the things I willingly gave up to go on my mission was competitive running. I guess that God didn't require me to completely sacrifice it, because on Thursday in the big gym, I saw a glorious sight: an MTC records board with everything from soccer juggles to pullups- and the mile. So on Monday during gym I got one of the workers to escort me out to the field where he observed me while I broke the mile record by 30 seconds. Admittedly, based on when the records were set, it looks like they've only been doing this this year. But I was still happy about my time- 4:28. Not bad for running on a sloped grass field during my mission. 

Tuesday we got to hear from David F. Evans. Apparently the whole first presidency and quorum of the twelve are coming next week to train the new mission presidents, I hope one of them will talk to us! That night they changed leadership and made me the new district leader. I am quite glad for the opportunity to worry about others instead of just myself. You truly are so much happier when you are caring about others more than you are yourself. 


Anziano Cannon