Thursday, December 24, 2015

Weeks 27-30

Well... What a week it has been. I like to be optimistic but honesty is important too. It's kind of hard because in my life there have only been a few things that I've really wanted to be good at, but when I decide that I do, I go full boar 101% until I have success. Being a missionary is one of those things. Only God will ever really know the mental and physical dedication and discipline I have put in to being the missionary He wants me to be each minute of the day. (Speaking of which, a funny thing I thought the other day is "wow it's so cold, thank goodness I'm a missionary and don't have to complain about it". Ha-ha. Maybe there is some wisdom in that). But as a missionary it doesn't exactly work like that. You can be cleaning up every part of your work - being more obedient than you've ever been on your mission, working harder and smarter and with more faith than ever and there's no guarantee that you'll have immediate success, despite how logical that might seem. So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't need any prayers for my own well-being; just pray that we can find success! 

Got a nice bunch of contacts this week, once we can meet with them things will start rolling... I've been very blessed. I would never recognize myself four months ago with how I contact now. We get better and better each day. And we had a nice, successful third hour in church where we missionaries talked about missionary work. It went pretty well; I'm excited for them to start helping us teaching their friends. 

We had inter-zone thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.  Good to see some old friends from the mission. I've been becoming quite the jump-roper lately during morning exercise, but I'm REALLY hoping President lets us do this massive Rome 10K that Nike sponsors on the 31st as a proselyting tool like they did last year. 

Referring to the title of my email: I know I said I've been being obedient, but on Friday I went to a movie theater to watch a movie that didn't even get done until 9:45. But I did it with my mission president! Ha! “Meet the Mormons” premiered here so a bunch of politicians and people apparently came to watch it, and they wanted us missionaries to be there for our presence, so we got permission to go! It was great! 

Excerpt from our lesson yesterday: "As member missionaries, who we are is the first act of missionary work that we do. I have a journal where I write down impactful scriptures, and I testify that as I have studied them, they have helped me to better myself and become a better example and light for non-members." Read the scriptures! If you feel that the Spirit does not communicate with you as much as you would like, I suggest you study and memorize scriptures. 

Anziano Cannon 

Not a very flattering picture of some of us, but here we are caroling before the movie.

4/10ths of my MTC district on thanksgiving 

Don't worry, I ate thanksgiving dinner with family this year ;)

December 7, 2015

What a great, insane week! Woo hoo! Things are starting to get moving here. It's been hard work but I am grateful for the lesson of humility I have learned this transfer. You can never come into a city and just "fix" it and get the work rolling. Sorella NaBita, the sister from my district who just finished her mission, hit me hard when she said that every miracle or good thing that comes in our mission is a tender mercy from God. At the          same time, that does not mean we should be pessimistic or down on ourselves! The past couple days especially I have felt a strong confidence - that if we do what is right, GOD will provide us with success. 

Saturday the sisters had a baptism. It was incredible. I left the building that night just ready to GO and with a renewed vigor that comes from remembering that although the lows come a lot more often in the mission, the highs totally outweigh them and make them worth it. So literally the second guy we talked to turned out to be a young man who isn't very satisfied with his experience with Catholicism and is looking for truth. Normally we call contacts the next day, but Anziano Saffer called him that night, and invited him to church. He came yesterday morning, took a Book of Mormon, and set up and appointment with us for this week! 

After church I gave my first blessing in Italian. Boy have I been blessed with the gift of tongues. Also it was seriously a miracle that I could remember these ladies' super LONG Italian names. We've started to do 100% SYL [Speak Your Language] Wednesdays as a companionship. I'll admit that it's easy to slip into English when you're not thinking about it, but for the rest of the week it makes it easy to "slip into" Italian just because it's easier when you might normally speak English. 

Sunday night there was a fireside. We heard it wasn't missionary related, so we had to have an investigator with us if we wanted to come. I thought, "ok we'll try to get an investigator there, if not it's not a big deal". We ended up actually getting two to come, which was especially nice because I walked in there expecting it to be a broadcast, but instead my attention was immediately called to a huge 6'4"ish black guy. Elder Joseph W. Sitati had come to speak to our stake! Well that made it a little more interesting. It wasn't a normal devotional, he was talking about self-sufficiency. But another little blessing is that one of the guys we brought was super into it, he was like making hand gestures to show his approval of what was being said ha-ha. I personally love learning at the feet of general authorities; Elder Sitati was throwing around some insanely deep thoughts and connections between the parables in Matthew 25. Though I will say that I've also come to love the imperfections of these men - like Elder Bednar said, it is faith PROMOTING. If God can take an imperfect man and help him fulfill his calling as a prophet, he can certainly help me be a good missionary. My companion and I gave each other a weird look when Elder Sitati mentioned how the master gave his servants "five talents, four talents, two talents and one talent" ha-ha. 

I've definitely learned to "judge righteously".  I heard some things at the start of this transfer that shook my faith a bit about this ward, but as I have actually gotten to know them, I have started to love these converts (I saw by a raise of hands- they are basically ALL converts). For example, we have a cool door-to-door salesman who gave us tips on going house to house, an awesome member of just two years who doesn't have hobbies anymore because he prefers "focusing on church service now", and an incredible ward mission leader who treats his calling as a full time job. 

For my little spiritual thought, I'll just talk about preparation, having to do with the devotional, but not anything Elder Sitati said. Right when I saw him there, I almost subconsciously felt my sideburns to make sure they were above my ears, checked to make sure my shoes were polished, pants were ironed, etc. Thankfully all was in order. But the point is that there are things we do every day, physically yes but also spiritual, that may seem like a pain or nuisance. But we never know when our "second coming" will be. We have to prepare now so we will be ready when the day of reckoning comes. 

Vi voglio bene, [I love you all]

Anziano Cannon 

December 14, 2015
This week we kind of realized the importance of English course. It actually is a really great opportunity to learn how to be a better teacher. I've found it’s important to go super hard for one hour, being full of energy and enthusiasm and smiles and humor, etc. so you can entertain your students and hopefully teach them some English as well, despite the awkward fact that a couple are more bilingual than you are. But this has been especially important in this area, because we have a big English course (the sisters teach one level and we do the other) and LOTS of potential investigators (which is why we do it in the first place).

This week we had our first lesson with Fransisco, a Peruvian who we very glad to teach in the presence of one of the coolest RMs I've ever met, Fabio. Then we definitely have some other potentials. Bishop wants us to teach more families and I'm like "heck yes I would love to, we just need referrals"- it's really hard to stop families on the street. But we have this new student, a man who brings his two sons and has a wife at home who was asking us about what we do for like 15 minutes after class one night so we'll try to start teaching this week... Along with the Cubans! The problem is, we still don't know their names. But it's at the point where we've known them long enough that it would be awkward to ask, so once we find out their names they'll be baptized for sure! Ha-ha just kidding. But really they are super cool, a pair of friends who are like 30 years old each. I don’t know if they are new or what, but I have no idea why previous missionaries haven't started teaching them. Last week I talked to one of them, who told me he prays to God for 3 or 5 minutes every morning and that he loves what we do. So I told him we'd love to talk to them and explain "what we do" a little better! 

We also started teaching our post-baptism street contact Andrea this week. He's a really interesting guy, but still completely normal. He showed up to the first lesson wearing roller skates - you might be inclined to judge, but if you saw the picture of what he looked like before he had started roller skating (probably 50 pounds heavier) you might quickly realize he has just found a very unique way to exercise. He only missed church yesterday because it was his 21st birthday. 

We also were blessed with some success with less active work this week. Last night right as we might have been about to turn back after ringing at this old ladies house without an answer, her young nephew just happened to walk up and led us up to her. She was sick, but he gave us his number and wants us to come back soon (he's not a member). We also got to go to a less active member and teach "him" a lesson, but his whole family of like eight, none of which have been baptized, were listening super intently the entire time. Next time we come we might just so happen to decide to teach "him" the Restoration. 

In other news... So yesterday I got to translate priesthood meeting. We have these little microphones that transmit to headsets English speakers wear, so I got to be on the hotspot and translate for some Americans, though I'll tell you the vocabulary we use to talk about "strengthening our stakes" isn't easy.

Afghanis are definitely the best dressed people here. Honestly I'm totally wearing clothes like they do when I come home, they wear these sick scarves with their jackets and tan pants... Also, the verdict from president on the 10K was "absolutely not", but at least I have had some athletic success as my jump rope record went up to 443 in a row this week despite my lack of coordination. 

Something I am really passionate about (though obviously not perfect at applying) that we heard from Elder Christofferson last conference:

"In the Church we not only learn divine doctrine; we also experience its application. As the body of Christ, the members of the Church minister to one another in the reality of day-to-day life. All of us are imperfect; we may offend and be offended. We often test one another with our personal idiosyncrasies. In the body of Christ, we have to go beyond concepts and exalted words and have a real ‘hands-on’ experience as we learn to ‘live together in love’.”

As members of the church we do in fact need to get our "hands" dirty as we keep our covenants. Pilate cleaned his hands because he wanted to avoid this. He knew what the right thing to do was but he was too scared to do it. For us it cannot be that way! Though our forms of service and sacrifice may not be noticed by all, or be easy to perform, they are seen by God, and that is what really counts, right? 


Anziano Cannon

Africa right by our house 

December 21, 2015

This week I had the interesting thought the names of the people we've baptized so far translate to "God is with us" and "Savior".  (Speaking of which, I just heard that they are both almost prepared to get the priesthood. Yay!) Maybe next up is Liu, who named his son "Ire D’Angelo" (luck of an angel). We actually just taught him an hour ago. He is our Cuban English course student. The background on his phone is a picture of Ire, who is three years old and he does "everything” for.  Such a good guy, it was so easy to ask him to meet us! The Restoration went great, it was an ok lesson until we started talking about Joseph Smith. Then the room got all quiet and the Spirit was really strong.  Now we just have to figure out what to do because his girl and son live in Venezuela since it is cheaper for them to stay there, but they aren't actually married.

This week I've been praying for miracles every day, and I testify that THEY HAVE COME. my companion got sick earlier in the week, but I felt the reassurance that even though we weren't working as hard as I would like to be, God is the one we really rely on, and He knows we are doing our best and will still put prepared people in our path. This came true on Sunday. I was actually fasting for help with the work. One of the difficulties we face is with mornings. Investigators work.  Members work. Potential investigators should probably be working.

We did a new thing this week as we rung doors, which hardly ever works since people can't even see us over the intercom. We just rang them all at once, then when multiple people started asking over the intercom "who is it?" we responded in a soft voice "sono io" ("it's me"). Then usually someone will open up the gate, and we can proceed to do real door to door throughout the apartment complex. But our success was short lived - the average age of the people at home was like 94. Thankfully, I not only received some revelation afterward on how to handle this morning problem, but we also had a massive miracle Sunday as the sisters brought a less active woman and her whole nonmember family of five to church for the first time! Apparently the mom wanted us elders to teach the dad and 13 year old son since they are guys.

They were the only investigators we had at church though, because one of our Simps [short for the Italian word for investigators] literally showed up 3.5 hours late. Yep, if you think Americans aren't punctual. We also had Gian Piero and Eva show up though!!! Peruvian referrals. A 16 year old and his mom. It was really a blessing because he is kind of shy and when he went to the young men's activity the day before, I didn't think it had gone as well as it could have with him making friends, but later that night he called us saying he wanted to come to church! They had problems though but still showed up on time to see us and the members before we left.

We actually have a lesson planned on Christmas morning. We will confirm the day before, we aren't sure if the lady remembered that the 25th is Christmas. But of course we wouldn't complain to do it. Am I sad to not celebrate Christmas like I am used to? No. I'm sad that not everyone gets to celebrate it as fully as I do by inviting people come to Christ and use his holy sacrifice that we celebrate on Easter and throughout the year.

Merry Christmas,


Anziano Cannon

You when your comp is sick and you have just 
watched the entire "District".  Fun times.

MTC group in the Rome east zone!!! We are starting our fifth transfer!!
Syrian kebab place I went to before zone conference. I heard this is illegal in America? They use this saw type thing to shave the meat off. Super yummy.
This is a picture of the hill we live on.