Thursday, January 28, 2016

Weeks 33-35

January 11, 2016

Pretty crazy week, lots of ups and downs. But overall it's just pretty great that, no matter what, we always have the opportunity to invite everyone to come to Christ. 

This week we got a referral. He has already been taught once by other missionaries in Rome. We really have to pray for his wife though. She is a practicing Catholic who got really mad at him for meeting with us. He sent us a text yesterday saying basically "my wife is ticked so I can't meet, but don't worry I'll keep reading and learning from the Book of Mormon" in his imperfect Filipino English. So we'll need a miracle with that one.

This week we showed Liu "The Restoration" and he accepted the invite to be baptized! 

We also saw Nicola. The lesson was a bit rocky as we ran out of time before English course at the end. And at one point we asked our great member Brother DeMateis what the Atonement meant for him and he must have been dozing a little bit because he went into a ten minute discourse about how he likes the aspect of this church that you can find out for yourself if it's true. But the Spirit was there and in the end he also accepted the baptismal invite. 

John Pierr is doing really well. It's just super sad that his Dad left them and his mom works so long that some nights she sleeps at work and he's all alone. But we read Alma 32 together and he made a good connection to weight lifting so that was fine with me. 

I wasn't planning on sharing this with everyone but I guess I will... Saturday was a pretty hard day. Marco told us he was leaving for Malta permanently for work, we found out a bunch of people weren't going to be able to come to church, and we faced a ton of rejection. At the end of the day I felt like I should be justified in crying, that I had worked so hard and not seen the success that I wanted. But I just could not find any excuse or reason to feel sorry for myself. That's just selfish. This morning I got a pretty powerful answer as I thought about Christ telling me "How hard did I work for these people's salvation?" It's true. No matter what effort I put into this work, it will never equal what He has already done. 


Anziano Cannon 

 Coolest escalator picture ever no? 

 Trevi fountain 

January 18, 2016

I pondered about it, and would say that this week has definitely been one of the three hardest weeks in my mission. And yet, this was the first time that I legitimately had the thought that I could be a missionary forever. I don't understand how that works. 

We met with Liu on Saturday and discussed the plan of salvation. He had only read 1 Nephi 1 but holy cow he remembered it like he was Bruce R. McConkie or something.  It was such a good almost word for word description that I was looking down at my scriptures having to verify what he was saying was true! Ha-ha. Anyway he accepted the commitment to be baptized on February 27th! Woohoo. Then he came with us to watch the baptism that another companionship held in our church. Those are always great experiences for investigators. 

We had a legit MIRACLE with Gian Pierr. It's so hard to get to his house. In fact, we felt terrible because on Friday we had to bedonae (cancel on) Marco (something you should NEVER do) because there was too much traffic on the long bus ride back from Gian Pierr's house. But then we saw Sorella Rossato on Saturday who lives close by and said that another sister in the ward was going to pick them up for church because this sister felt lonely and wanted company - and there was a spot for Gian Pierr! Unfortunately, he didn't come to church Sunday because his mom wants him to go study English every other Sunday, so that kind of broke our heart. But I had a very clear prompting last night that he needs to read and understand the Book of Mormon, and then it will all fall into place. Usually investigators struggle to accept rules because they don't understand principles, and they struggle to accept principles because they don't understand doctrine. So I figured if we hit the Book of Mormon hard they'll come around. 

A heart wrenching experience: showing "Finding Faith in Christ" to Mauro. It hit PERFECTLY on his situation. I felt the Spirit strongly anyway, and knew it could have been exactly what we needed and that we might have been able to extend a baptismal invitation, had it not been for his two young kids who were no joke possessed by servants of the adversary during that video. I'm just kidding but it really was a trying experience. I had been praying the whole time for the kids to be quiet, but in the end I just had to rely on Isaiah 55:8-9 and assume the Lord knows what he's doing. 

So we called Nicola to meet with him, who is still without a job and about to lose his house. He told us that we had nice words, but "Belle parole non si mangia" (you can't eat beautiful words). I kind of exclaimed "His faith won't grow when everything is all good and easy!" And I got kind of discouraged. Then it just *clicked* all at once to me and I realized that I was being EXACTLY like Nicola. Heavenly Father was testing MY faith, and I can't wait to proclaim my faith and trust in the Lord until when we have a million progressing investigators. It has to happen now.

I am super grateful for a great companion. We've been able to discuss some pretty deep feelings and missionary experiences that were cool to share because it shows that all missionaries usually go through the same things. 

Ps if you get this email after 6 pm Rome time, I'm sorry but we had problems... As in no hot water. Elder Saffer didn't want to take a shower this morning and I was like "come on stop being a wimp" and took one myself. Well, I did it. But I will just say that there is a big difference between not having hot water in Sicily in July and not having hot water in Rome in January. We spent a while waiting for it to be fixed today. 

Have you seen the movie "The Testaments"? I find it interesting that in that movie, the father, Helam, receives his sight back after being injured during the storm. Yet all of the healing the Christ did such as that I believe is mostly symbolic of how He heals us in a more important way - spiritually. In "The Testaments", it was in reality the son that received his "sight" back to be able to see things as they really are through the grace of Christ. 


Anziano Cannon 

January 25, 2016

This week we found out that the Steri family, which we had met before Christmas, didn't actually live in the apartment we thought they did. So one morning we went over to this massive three story apartment complex to try and find them, knowing only that they were on one of the first two floors. We ended up choosing one hall that I decided "felt a little less dark" (because this is kind of the ghetto), and we choose a random door to knock on. This lady opened up and the husband in the background said "come in!!" It was them! Miracle. They didn't have time to hear the lesson right then but we have an appointment this Wednesday with our secret weapon: Fabio. Literally he is the best. He cannot stop smiling, it's almost a problem. No one understands it. But we love him and are excited to teach the Steris next week!

Frozen culture extends throughout the world, so I made an instant connection with the little girl and her Frozen apparel and toys because of my sister Elissa. It was easy to see that they have a lot of repenting to do - he smokes, drinks coffee, and they aren't married. But I'm so excited because that's what missionary work is all about! We are here to help people CHANGE their lives, not to find only those who already live just like we do. 

Dang!  Work is SUCH a big problem here... Honestly it is SO hard for these people to find any work, the general consensus is that you have to have friends and contacts if you have any shot at working. The English course lesson this week was "having a job interview" but the students turned it basically into a bash Italy for how much it stinks fest. 

Wednesday we taught Jean Pierr (yes, I know I've spelled his name differently in every email). It's really true what Elder Holland said that we can tell exactly how well the lesson is going by looking into the investigators' eyes. And for Jean Pierr, it went really well. We FINALLY got to teach him the Restoration, and he really liked it! Saturday we saw Sorella Rossato in church, and she told us his mom Eva had switched jobs so she could be at home more. "What?" I exclaimed in English, so she explained it again, but I was just shocked that that had happened. We hope to see them BOTH this week and that Jean Pierr will have read his Spanish Book of Mormon. 

There was an awesome worldwide training for missionaries this week. The title of the conference was "Preach Repentance and Baptize Converts" - very succinct and powerful. That night I went to bed, disappointed that I couldn't go out and work right then! It was great. 

Also PS we still don't have hot water, if you want to know. My body temperature goes way down during my shower so then I usually have to bundle up in my winter coat to avoid freezing during personal study, ha-ha. 

Liu is doing well! I was stoked with our ward and the way they opened up to him at church on Sunday. It's always so relieving when you don't even have to worry about investigators because they are busy making friends. Mauro's family came too, though we weren't able to teach them this week. 

The gospel is true anywhere in the world. And the Atonement changes anyone, anywhere. For that I am grateful this week. 


Anziano Cannon 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Week 31 and 32

December 28, 2015

Wow... What just happened? Yesterday Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the quorum of the twelve apostles came to our church! First he spoke to the missionaries in Rome. There were about thirty of us, plus it was filmed and broadcasted throughout the mission. They asked if someone could play the piano, so I got volunteered. I was supposed to go up and play prelude about twenty minutes before the meeting started, but all of a sudden some guy ran in and was like, "He's here, he's here!" So I had to rush up and start playing, and of course being super nervous I was playing "How Firm a Foundation" in the wrong key as Elder Oaks walked in with his wife and President Whaddoups and everyone else stood up.

Then we were informed that we would be able to meet him. "Them too!", said Elder Oaks, pointing to me and the translators. Sitting at the piano, I presumed to go last, but Sister Whaddoups said "Him first, so he can play piano". Thus I walked up and shook Elder Oaks' hand. He asked me where I was from and I managed to get out the most distracted "Oregon" I could have said, all the time thinking about the stories about how apostles can conduct a whole PPI by looking through your eyes into your soul while you just tell them where you are from. Then I sat down and continued to play, even after everyone else was sitting and quiet as we waited to begin. 

So yeah, it was pretty intense, and I learned a ton!!! I definitely know he is led by the Spirit to know what to say, because he spoke for a couple minutes in response to literally the exact conversation we had had with the sisters about the priesthood the day before.  

He spoke about being a "tool in the Lord's hands", and in specific, a pen. We need to have a full cartridge (studies), be functional (stay healthy), be willing to "write" 24/7 (including p day), and always write the Lord's message, not ours. 

Then he spoke to the whole stake an hour later. Holy cow, so many people came!!!! We packed in a GAZILLION chairs, honestly we destroyed the holding capacity of that room. We had four investigators come, including Eva and Gian Piero, who miraculously got seats despite coming late (we were outside in the hall). Afterward I took Fabio to go meet them [the investigators], and he KILLED it, like always. I merely asked them how they were, then he jumped in and talked to them nonstop in Spanish for a few minutes. I think I heard some stuff about the Book of Mormon and we missionaries. Then he gave Eva a handshake and Gian Piero a hug! Ha. Stoked about that. 

We ate an awesome Christmas pranzo [lunch] with our ward mission leader’s family. I enjoyed eating a "Bethlehem dinner" as is tradition in my family. Skyping my family was fun, but it went SO quickly. 

We also found a great potential family this week! And they told us to come to their house in the mornings! 

Your special spiritual thought came from something Elder Oaks said to the stake:

If there is one problem in the church, it is that there are millions of members who are on the path and not progressing. Last year the apostles prayed about this for a few weeks together, and decided that the best way to fix this was to increase our faith in Jesus Christ. And how do we do that? By improving our Sunday meetings and do better at honoring the Sabbath. He said that unlike the Jewish leaders of old who set tons and tons of rules of what is appropriate for Sabbath day observance, we focus more and more on the principle that the Sabbath is a sign to God. It is a day we set apart. The closest thing to a rule is "the suggestion to not go shopping on Sunday" (he actually used the word suggestion). Sunday is MY favorite day. Especially as a former college student, I can really testify that choosing to not study, run, etc. and instead focus on Heavenly Father and spiritual things was a great source of energy, stability, and happiness. 


Anziano Cannon 

Yummy Peruvian lunch

Christmas Eve

January 4, 2016

I think I'm going to like 2016!!!! Honestly the miracles just come every day here. January 1st was deep cleaning day. I had a fun time cleaning the black mold off our bathroom ceiling with a sponge taped to a broom head that I dipped in bleach and tried to not drip in my eyes or on my clothes. Fun stuff, eh? 

Ok the next day we were doing weekly planning when a guy named Nicola called us, saying that somehow he got a pass along card with our number and wanted to meet us. So we went to the church, taught him the Plan of Salvation (I felt that based on his needs we needed to change from our original plan of the Restoration on the fly. Thankfully we have the companionship unity for stuff like that to work). He has had a tough past few years, but he still remembers with great fondness going to Salt Lake City for business a few years ago and loving all he saw about Mormonism. He came to church yesterday and was chalk full of questions about everything that would take hours to respond to, so I promised him we would get started when we meet again Tuesday! 

We also did a pass off lesson with the sisters for the Mendez family this week. We gave the 2 year old daughter Eva a blessing. They have so much potential, it's going to be hard but all of our efforts will be worth it if the dad and son get baptized and the wife reactivated!

Another miracle happened just a few hours ago! It was a bit annoying that we had just gotten our groceries and the bus was taking forever to come. Just then we saw Liu walk by on the other side of the street! RIGHT afterward, our bus came. Not a coincidence if you ask me. The problem was that we hadn't been able to call him.  He had gone to Cuba on December 26th to see his mother who was in critical condition in the hospital. We had been praying really hard for both, but staying out of contact because we can't call out of the country. Turns out that because of certain problems he actually couldn't go to Cuba, but it's ok because his mom is doing fine now! So we'll see him tomorrow. I'm stoked for the Plan of Salvation. 

This week I gained a testimony of less active work. Our lesson with Janus Silva (a 20 year old from the Philippines) helped me realize that to God, the importance of the souls of less actives, investigators, and missionaries are all the same! In the middle of the lesson he just broke down crying as he told us about how active he used to be in the church, and how he wants to return. I felt God's love for him really strong right then and am super excited for him. 

Saturday night we started our member missionary work operation using a sheet we got from our zone leaders.  It helps them write down friends that they can invite to make certain small steps in the Gospel and progress towards the missionary lessons and baptism. We went to the Barriga family. Honestly this is one of my favorite families in the world (literally, I'm so privileged to have been able to come to Italy to meet this awesome Peruvian family). Around them it's just impossible to not smile. 

Oh yeah, one more funny thing that happened. This week we stopped a lady in the street and asked her what was the most important thing in her life. She responded that God was, and she told us she wanted to show us a picture. It was the wallpaper on her iPad - the picture of Christ holding the lamb that is found on the cover of "The Restoration" pamphlet. Ha-ha so that got the conversation going pretty quickly. She had found it online. We sent her phone number to the sisters where she lives. 

With even more examples of people like Nicola and the Mendez family where we just have investigators handed to us on a plate it has become very clear to me that what we learn in 2 Nephi about grace applies to missionary work as well: it is by the power of God that we have success AFTER all we can do, not BECAUSE of all we do. 


Anziano Cannon

Ethan is on the second to last row, first seat on the left.