Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Week 18

Ah! I love seeing Emanuel's progress! Anziano Borner gave him a new white shirt which he looked so good in on Sunday, along with a nice looking vest of his own that he wore over it. He was happy to tell others about his baptism and even wanted to welcome a "newcomer". 

This week was interesting as both Elder Richard G. Scott and my uncle Layne Williams passed away. I had interesting spiritual experiences regarding both. For some reason I really wanted to give the spiritual message in district meeting on Tuesday, so Anziano Borner let me. I decided to talk about personal revelation using two talks I love by Elder Scott. So when I found out he died that day I had an oddly warm feeling inside. I also read a talk about the things that matter most to us as members of the church and had a very emotional and spiritual conversation about it in regards to my uncle's situation earlier this week with Anziano Simmons while I was on a scambio [exchange]. 

On that scambio we also got to teach a really awesome referral. He was full of questions and I was glad to take Anziano Simmons' approach of slowing down and waiting for the Spirit to speak through us (that is something I could definitely learn from). I was really surprised and happy because at one point he straight up asked "was my baptism (in another church) valid?" It was a very blunt question and when I explained it he was miraculously completely ok about with my response. 

I have never felt as inadequate as I do right now on the mission. There are so many ways I need to improve. But at least I can catch glimpses of ways I have already changed a lot. I remember the last time we lost water for a couple days I felt like it was so difficult and stressful but it happened again this week and at this point the only reason I really cared is because I didn't want it to interfere with our work. 

Oh yea transfer calls were this week. I'm staying in Bagheria and will get a new companion, Elder Anderson. He's only been in Italy for about six months himself, but that is no surprise because our mission is so young right now. As of a couple months ago, 1/3 of the mission was in its first three transfers. Anziano Borner is leaving to be a Zone leader in Cosenza. I'm sure he'll do great! 

Couple random notes: I had an insane bloody nose that lasted for about 20 minutes the other day, it was more blood than I've ever lost in my life. And I also had the most amazing brioche EVER. They usually cost 2 euro and include a ton of gelato stuffed in a sweet roll. This time I picked a chocolate gelato that had apricot flavoring. It was heavenly! 

We had a few other miracles this week. Lorenzo made it all the way through his fast and said the experience was "bellissima" [most beautiful].  We haven't met with him since then but are very excited to do so! We taught three Africans together again the Plan of Salvation. We did this because two of them hadn't yet heard it.  Our investigator, Alex, was the other one there and even though we taught it to him just a couple weeks ago he basically wanted to teach the lesson to the others by himself! Still trying to get a ride to church for them.

Then we met a Jehovah's Witness named Salvatore who loves studying. We think he's read through 2 Nephi since our first lesson the other day.  During our phone call to set up another appointment he said the Book of Mormon was truer than anything anyone else has, so that's cool.

When you are learning a language you learn not to get flowery with your testimony, but I think that's ok. So here you have it in English: The Plan of Salvation is real. The Holy Ghost is real. The prophet and apostles see and communicate with Jesus Christ himself. I know God lives! 


Anziano Cannon 

Zone calcio [soccer] in the rain is life! 

Africans have great smiles, they just don't use 
them when taking pictures! Alex on the left.

Someone decided to light fireworks right outside our house! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 17

September 21, 2015

First of all, I forgot to say this after 9/11, but I would like to give a big shout out to America. We really have no idea how blessed we are until we visit other countries and talk to other people. The facts that there are plenty of jobs, the government is not corrupt, and it is able to protect its citizens, etc. are all things that people in Italy or Africa would love to have. If you do not feel this is the case, I urge you to travel and get some perspective! 

On Thursday we had a miracle where during two lessons in a row right after we said the closing prayer the investigators' phone went off. It was nice to be focused and have the Spirit with us the whole lesson. I also had a ton of fun teaching four Nigerians together. They live in a camp right now and the bus doesn't come on Sundays, but they wanted us to "tell your preacher that we want to come to church". So we'll have to figure that out. At the end of the lesson they asked what my real name is. It's so funny how neither Italians nor Africans can ever get it right. The Africans eventually decided on "E-tin" after trying a couple dozen times, while Italians add an h for some reason and usually say "He-thin". 

Yesterday we ate fu fu (sp.?) with Emmanuele and his member friend Endurance. It was a crazy experience, you scoop up this spinach broth using this floury paste stuff. There's also meat. The fish was actually quite good but the cow leg was definitely the worst tasting meat I've ever had. I guess it was a good experience to have. 

Yesterday we had to do a mini exchange again because our companionship needed to be in the English and Italian wards. I wasn't there but apparently this weird guy we only taught once this week but invited him to church for the heck of it showed up to Italian ward and he tried to heal a member's broken arm. This same guy told us "you pray, and I'll bring the Spirit". I got to play piano in English ward which was super great, and the talks were something else. I was doing my absolute hardest not to burst out laughing as this African guy was calling us to repentance, literally using the term "secret combinations" and implying we need to stop doing those. 

It was a great week though bringing people to Christ. It was so refreshing to talk to two heavy smokers and tell them how they can overcome their addiction through the Atonement and see them get so emotional about it. They may never join the church, but I know I accomplished my missionary purpose that day. 

Anziano Cannon

P-day lunch. I LOVE bakeries here. You get this big load of bread for 
40 cents. I also bought a kilo of peaches (a very popular fruit here). 

 These trees reminded me of America. Not because they are 
American trees, but just because they are trees period! 

And a couple of pics of a Palermo Zone 
conference posted by Sorella Waddoups:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Weeks 13-16 [Sorry for the delay!]

August 24

They didn't show this happening on "The District"

This was by far the craziest week of my mission, full of ups and downs. By the end of our fourth day we had already broken our single week record for lessons taught because people were practically showing up at our house wanting us to teach them (we are allowed to teach in our apartment because that is also where we hold English course).

Wednesday morning I prayed we would see Paolo or Andrea, two of our potential investigators whose phone numbers we didn't have, and right as we left our house, we saw Andrea! He and his friend agreed to come back later for a lesson. They were so curious, and there were so many gospel principles I wanted to teach them! It was awesome! The next morning we agreed to begin a fast so that Andrea could find work. Unfortunately, at the end of our fast the following morning, Andrea came over to tell us he wasn't interested in the Church. He hadn't been able to complete his fast and the previous day had spoken with the Jehovah's Witnesses. He said the closing prayer of our meeting and prayed that we would be able to learn that God's name is Jehovah, which was both a little funny and heartbreaking at the same time.

Sunday after church we went to a non-members house for lunch. It was a big catholic family that included the awesome family I met at my first English course. Afterwards we taught them, focusing especially on eternal families. It felt great to share that truth with them. Sadly, there was an incredibly liberal 23 year old German girl visiting who started hammering us on gay marriage. If you want details on how we butchered that conversation, ask my parents. In the end, I realized that in all likelihood no one will ever join this church because of our position on gay marriage, and that's ok. Also, the mom told us she is too devoted to her Catholicism to listen to us. Although other religions are often impediments in our teaching, I really love the Italians.

It is so fun at English course to see how the most diverse people become friends just because they are in the same room. That's just what you do. And you always shake hands at least twice in a conversation, not to mention kiss if that's appropriate. This week overall was so great though.  We got to talk to a lady who we had basically shoved a restoration pamphlet to as we ran to catch the train a couple weeks ago.  We also talked to a bunch of super poor kids who we really, really, really want to see at English course tomorrow. 

This morning I read this, also by Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
"He seeks to enlist unfaltering souls who diligently go about the work of building the kingdom of God--those who, when faced with opposition and temptation, say in their hearts, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.” When faced with trial and suffering, they respond, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.” When faced with ridicule and reproach, they proclaim, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.”

I AM doing a great and cannot come down, we have so many important things to do and we have been given the responsibility of preaching the gospel in Bagheria, which is truly an honor. 

Anziano Cannon 

View from the house of the family we taught on Sunday! 

Some beautiful finding on Saturday. 

August 31

Wow, what a week! Wednesday was the craziest and probably the best day of my mission so far. Heaven knows how many miles we speed walked from appointment to appointment. We ended up teaching seven lessons that day, and gave out four Books of Mormon to investigators who we taught for the first time. 

One of my favorites was Francesca and her family. They were the family I wanted to go see a month or so ago. She kept on rescheduling like five times which was sad, so when she finally opened the door I was so grateful. We taught them the restoration. They are sooo poor. There is nine of them I think, and a couple weeks ago when we stopped by to see them, for whatever reason, I still had a tiny plastic top you spin between your fingers in my pocket (long story how it got there). Anyway a couple weeks later these kids, like four of them, still were all playing with this junky top. It will take a miracle to get them to church, but I believe in miracles! Getting people from Bagheria to Palermo for church is actually really difficult- we had to take the train this Sunday at 7:30 AM to get there which is fine for us, but if you don't have a testimony of why church is so important and you can't afford train tickets, it's more of a problem. So I would appreciate your prayers with that! 

Reason number 363 why I love Africans: there are like six of them total here in Bagheria, and we have currently begun teaching three. That's 50%, and I'm sure the others would be down to learn if we ever get to talk to them. One of them, Festus, kissed the Book of Mormon his first lesson so I'm pretty hopeful about our next meeting! Haha.

Also, this might take the cake for worst Italian shirt with English writing on it that I've ever seen: "Party till you're homeless". We were laughing so hard, sometimes I think Italians wear their clothes just to entertain us. 

Friday was the baptism of the bishop's son! Little did the eight year old know how excited I was for the baptism as it was a great missionary opportunity. The spirit was great there, there was a ton of non-members and they had an awesome experience. 

Anyway I'm pretty sure we started the transfer off on a good foot, as I pray and focus on others I am really hoping that at the same time Heavenly Father is making me a better missionary. I hope you all are taking Elder Ballard's challenge to "be engaged in the work of salvation before, during, and after your missions"! 

Anziano Cannon

Driving to Palermo. Sorry this is all I've got this week, but this is a general idea 
of what I look at every day. Mountains inland, and sea on the other side.  

September 7

We had zone conference this week. It was such an incredible learning experience. Immediately afterward we started our exchange with the zone leaders. I went to Palermo with my distant cousin and 6'10" zone leader, Anziano Pingree. It was an awesome, awesome 24 hours. That's not meant at all to put down my trainer Anziano Borner, who I have learned a lot from and is a great missionary in his own right, but getting a fresh perspective on missionary work was so helpful.

In the morning we went finding and we talked to literally everybody we saw. And it wasn't like the same script over and over.  Based on each person he decides how to break the ice, whether he needs to start with English course, the Gospel, or something else. It was exhausting because doing that is so hard at my level of Italian but it was also great.

The night before we had an awesome English course. At Palermo several companionships of missionaries work together for English course, so they have about 40 students. We taught the basic level. At the end Anziano Pingree threw down an insanely powerful testimony that had a girl crying (hardly what I would call a "spiritual thought"), then I added my little piece and afterwards we had them all fill out some paperwork where they could request materials from us, and over half wanted Books of Mormon!

Saturday was the baptism of Giorgia, the sisters' investigator, which was great. One of my favorite lessons this week was with a guy who at first seemed to really doubt the Book of Mormon, but after some persistent testimony, he really opened up to the Book and would have let us read all of first Nephi with him if we had let him. 

I feel so blessed that day by day I have become a better missionary. One of the most satisfying feelings is to erase a goal from my list because it is something that is now easy and second nature. It really is through grace that I can be successful when I am thrown into the furnace of having to accompany three Italian ladies at a baptism on a song I couldn't even play by myself in the first place.  

Anziano Cannon

P day was so cool today! We went to Monreale where an Italian 
king of some sort employed Arabs to build this insane cathedral. 

Nice and windy up here! Especially after the recent heat. 
It was 39 degrees on Sunday (I think that's like 102). 

The story of the Bible is written on the walls. 

September 14

Wednesday it started raining like I've never seen it rain. There was literally no way to cross the street to get to the house without completely submerging my shoes in water. So that was fun. Thursday we did a scambio [exchange] with the Palermo 2 Anziani. I was with Anziano Simmons in Bagheria. He had the idea to hang a sheet from our balcony as an advertisement for English course. I gave him a pass along card with our number on it to draw on the sheet. Unfortunately two days later we realized why nobody had called us. 


Friday was great. We taught a lady named Laura whose whole extended family is LDS. She straight up told us she could very well be baptized into our church someday, but just isn't ready right now. It was awesome though, we felt the Spirit very powerfully.

Later that day we taught Alex, an awesome Nigerian. I asked him how his Book of Mormon reading is going, and he said good, "but I haven't finished it yet". We had given it to him just a few days before and I told him that of course we didn't expect him to already be done, so I asked him what page he was on. His response: "1 or 2". Haha. Well at least that's something. 

Saturday was a member present miracle lesson as we taught another African named Emmanuel. His friend came to visit from elsewhere in Italy, and we invited him to join us and listen to the lesson before he told us that he was already baptized! 

One cool thing I took away from Anziano Simmons: if you look at the five lessons in Preach My Gospel, you can see that every single one of them is related to God’s love for us. And so every time we teach, we should be so excited because we are sharing this joy and love that these people have never known about. I hope that you all at home treat missionary "work" the same way - the joyful experience of sharing God's love! 

Thanks for your prayers!

Anziano Cannon 

This was when it was just a light sprinkle 

Anziano Borner made a deal with me that he would go running this 
morning if we woke up at 5:30 to run to the beach to take pictures. I agreed!