Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Weeks 25 and 26

November 17, 2015

You are assigned to labor in... South America?

Ah, what a great week it has been! Transfer day was great. We were at a random stop somewhere and I got to see my trainer Anziano Borner for a second, just before the train left. Then when we stopped in Napoli I was pretty stoked to see my MTC friend Anziano Lancaster and my BYU RA Anziano Friedman! When we finally arrived in Rome, I met my new companion, Anziano Saffer. After we said hi to each other, he told me something like "well we could wait a second for the rest of the missionaries to get off the train so you could say goodbye real quick, but there's no reason to waste time so after that let's get out of here." Right from then I knew we were going to get along! Ha. He's a super good guy. Out of our district of us and four sisters, I am one of just two from America. 

Anyway, referring to the title of my email: I was a bit surprised to see that tons of people here, and especially tons of members, are from Latin America. Particularly Peru. We were in a lesson with our ward mission leader the other day and all of a sudden he decided to just start talking in Spanish, despite the fact that everyone present was perfectly good at Italian. Afterwards I was like "OK. Cool. I understood maybe four words there I guess I'll just bear my testimony now." There are some great people here though. One of them is our ward pianist, who wrote several songs for the Italian hymn book. Needless to say, I was not asked to accompany the music on Sunday.  :) 

The other day I heard through the grapevine that Rome 1 hasn't had a baptism in a year. And to be honest, the work right now is pretty slow. Suddenly I saw an unspoken challenge from President. Leave two young, hungry missionaries together in a bad area and see what they do. Well, you had better believe I told my comp the streak is breaking during our companionship. I don't like how sometimes missionaries say that areas where there are a lot of investigators have "lots of work" while other places that aren't seeing success have "not much work". In my opinion, the latter areas have the most work in the mission, because we have to catch up to others and GET investigators before we start teaching and baptizing them. We started doing this last night, where we took the subway to the Vatican and found our way the four or five mile walk home. 

Quick things: P-day was on Tuesday because we had zone conference yesterday… with my cousin! Didn't think we'd see each other this soon.

A couple guys from Salt Lake City came to church to take pictures. I will admit it was pretty cool to have someone taking a picture of you making a comment in priesthood while someone else in the back of the room is simultaneously translating what you are saying (there are a lot of English speakers here so they have to do that). Well, if yours truly is on the cover of a future Ensign, don't be surprised.  ;) 

The Italian has definitely improved. I now say all of my prayers throughout the day in Italian except my longer evening prayer. 

This week I had the thought that I am literally "walking on water" in a sense. With the experiences we have every single day, I should be SO exhausted, homesick, depressed, and frustrated. It is such a miracle and a huge evidence of the prayers and heavenly support we receive that we can do this work every day and love it. 


Anziano Cannon

Fratello Mannino. Incredible guy. African branch president. 

English course 

Famiglia Saccone, Famiglia Mantegna (investigators) and Salvatore  

Eman and his friend Endurance came to see me off at the train station.

First P-day.  Vatican in back. 

This castle we went to was part of the movie 
"Angels and Demons" if you've seen that. 

Zone Conference pictures:

Ethan with his cousin Tristan Spencer!

November 23, 2015

So on Saturday my companion and I had an interesting comp study where he revealed to me certain things about our ward that I hadn't noticed my first Sunday there. For example, right now there are so few willing men that only active members have home teachers. Yes, you read that right - only ACTIVE families have home teachers. And WE missionaries have home teaching assignments.

I could give 31 reasons why this is completely inappropriate, but I won't. We scheduled a meeting with our ward mission leader and kind of vented a tiny bit. He's a good guy. But to be honest I felt a bad afterwards. So I repented and decided that this would take a ton of prayer and faith that the Spirit will guide us to know what we can do and how we can do it to improve this ward, trusting that God knows which situations are best for a "cleansing of the temple" approach and which situations are better dealt with in a more positive way.

And I had a potential opportunity to "break boxes" (Italian slang for calling to repentance) a little in my testimony yesterday, especially after the less-than-desirable welcome our investigator Marco had just received, but I let the Spirit guide me and instead ended up expressing a ton of love I felt and knew that God has for each of them. And we have been blessed.

That day we befriended an Argentinian kid, who’s been home from his mission for two years but just came to Italy and is working on switching his Spanish to Italian right now. Being the awesome RM he is, he told us how where he used to live he would go with the missionaries once a week, "if that's ok". "Yes, yes that's fine with us" I quickly responded.  :) 

But yea we've seen some good success. We should have a couple baptismal dates by the end of this week. I have never worked harder on my mission, or prayed harder for guidance, despite this being the least numerically successful week of my mission. We talk to SO MANY people every day. I absolutely would've gotten up on the front of the bus and started preaching to everyone, instead of wasting time just talking to individuals, if my companion hadn't been a little worried they might get annoyed with us! Ha. 

I will just quickly say, without expounding more than necessary, that my health and physical safety have been pretty miraculously preserved during the past six months (OK, four and a half months - nothing can happen in the MTC). But it's good that we went to the Vatican last week, because we missionaries are now no longer to go over there. 

Well I guess my spiritual thought today will just be that Jesus Christ is the center of all we do. Joseph Smith said that all we have as members of the church - rain gutter regattas, relief society activities, cool "I'm a Mormon" videos about Irish runners - they are all just appendages to the real reason we are here. Jesus Christ and His Atonement. And I can't wait for one more reason to help people come to him as we approach the Christmas season!


Anziano Cannon 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Week 24

November 9, 2015

feel like every day in my journal I start out by writing, "Today has been pretty crazy." I guess that's mission life. Saturday was particularly crazy. In the morning we received our transfer calls and I found out I will be going to ROME!!!!!!! I'm so excited! I love Bagheria but feel peace about this transfer. It will mean a big drop in temperature. Every day has been beautiful here, probably in the 60s and always sunny. On Thursday I will take the same train that brought me here right back to Roma. My specific area, Rome 1, includes the Vatican, so hopefully I will be able to send some good p-day pics! My new companion will be Anziano Soffer from Sweden. He will be starting his fifth transfer (out of 16).  I will be starting my fourth), so I'm happy to have another relatively young companion. 

Saturday night was Salvatore's baptism! We were few in number that attended, but the Spirit was strong. He wrote out a three page long testimony to share, which we had to abbreviate a little bit! It was great though.  He talked about God cleansing the earth with the flood, and how he is now being cleansed with his baptism, and some other great, deep stuff that had Bishop raising his eyebrows. More important than his knowledge, however, was his testimony, which I'm sure grew as well when he received the Holy Ghost yesterday. What a happy couple of days! 

I have been overwhelmed the past couple days over the love I have felt for and from the members of this ward. I never imagined that I could have the feelings I currently do about people who I have known for such a little time, and especially talked with so little (remember I came here speaking barely any Italian!) But I got some pictures yesterday and will hopefully send some more next week of the incredible people I've met. 

Let me read an excerpt from my journal September 23rd. "I have never been this physically tired on the mission...We got bedonaed (canceled on) like 5 times today, twice by Giovanni. Well I guess it happens. Though I don't like admitting that I'm not in control of the situation."

September 23rd was the day we met Salvatore. I didn't even write about it because he didn't seem very promising at the time. But I testify that God is in control of the situation. He sees things that we can't, and out of our trials will come blessings and growth that we could never have imagined. 

Finally, from Neal A. Maxwell, “A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others." That doesn't mean we aren't afraid, or lazy, or have other problems or reasons we don't open our mouths. But we put those all on the altar and share the gospel anyway if we are truly converted. 

Love you all and can't wait to write you from Rome next week,

Anziano Cannon

Christopher- Palermo 3 branch (African) ward mission leader. Besides wearing the same swaggy tie to church every week, Christopher has really taken Eman under his wing and magnified his calling. (Remember that these Africans are some of the happiest people I know, for whatever reason they just can't smile for a camera). 

Joel- Palermo 3 branch first counselor. This guy would give 40 minute long sacrament talks pulling out insane quotes from D&C and the Pearl of Great Price if President Mannino let him. Such a great guy. 

Samuel- Palermo 3 quorum president. Yesterday Italian and African was combined, so he taught priesthood. I don't cease to be amazed that this guy, who hasn't been in the church for more than a few years, could get up and teach a lesson in front of 20 men in his second language (Italian). 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Week 23

November 2, 2015

Wow, my heart has been so full this week, I can't believe how blessed we've been and I don't understand how we could possibly deserve it.  On Saturday morning Salvatore passed his baptismal interview, which was no surprise to any of us. He got sick and couldn't come to church Sunday (dang it Satan!) but we fortunately live just down the street from him so we will be seeing him often this week in anticipation for the day he has been waiting for for a long, long time.

Later that day our investigator Tomasso came over. He has been in Bagheria for a little bit but was supposed to go back within a month to his home 60 kilometers away. We had just the previous night talked about how it was unrealistic to try and teach him and were planning on probably letting him go, until Saturday when we found out just kind of matter-of-factly that he is moving here permanently! Miracle!

In the past I've thought it best to allow the Italians to have chance to bear their testimonies in fast and testimony meeting, but yesterday I finally decided to get up and say mine, and was really glad I did. I was also there for African testimony meeting at the end of church, and was just blown away as Eman dropped the greatest testimony ever. He's a pretty quiet, closed guy, so to hear him say what he did so openly in front of the entire congregation about how his life has changed and his love for the gospel was just such an awesome experience. I was trying to stop smiling for the next five minutes! Haha. 

On Saturday the Palermo 1 Anziani had a couple baptisms. I volunteered to play the piano for prelude 25 minutes in advance. This turned out to not be the best idea, because the Bishop was half an hour late, so everyone was sitting here quietly while I flipped open to random pages in the Italian hymnal trying to find songs I could play. 

I've been reading "Our Search for Happiness" by M. Russell Ballard again. It is so cool to see how my perspective has changed since I read it in the MTC. At one point he talks about how many missionaries begin serving with the idea that they want to repay God for all that he has done for them in their lives. I bracketed that a few months ago, because that is basically in a nutshell my main reason why I wanted to serve a mission. But Elder Ballard continues that the missionaries will soon find out that we can never compensate God for all he has done for us.  As soon as we begin serving, he will bless us immensely. With my perspective now, I can better see the accuracy of this. This past little while I have worked hard for Heavenly Father, but even for my OWN personal well-being and development, there is NO BETTER way I could have spent the past five months. 

Well I am loving the work here and my companion, I would love to find out Saturday that I'm staying for another transfer!


Anziano Cannon 

Didn't really take pics this week.  Here's one of the beach. 

And Palermo