Friday, December 13, 2013

1st Email from Joseph

FINALLY!!!!! I get to email you!!!! :)
Hi Alissa! I'm sorry that you didn't know until yesterday that I couldn't email until today! The mail is so slow here! If you could post about the DearElder thing using my Facebook and add instructions on how to use it, that would be awesome! Also post my email address but say that it's better to use the DearElder thing to write to me until I leave the MTC on January 13th. Oh and let my mom know that I probably can't call anyone or Skype anyone until May.. but, I can most likely call people from the airport between the MTC and my first mission area (which may or may not be in the US, we'll see!), probably on January 13th!
     Anyways, thank you SO much for all of your letters! I love getting letters almost every day! I feel so special! The only other letters I got so far were a small one from my mom and a small one from Bryce & Angelita. Oh and thank you for the books as well! That one book is pretty heavy, but it's also pretty awesome. I'll find a way to bring all of my stuff to Brazil, don't worry! Oh also, I already got the small version of Preach My Gospel in English and in Portuguese, but if you already sent it, I'll give one of my copies to my companion since he doesn't have a small version of it. :)
So yeah like I said in my letter, I have 2 companions, and there are 9 Elders in my district (including me), and 0 Sisters. A district is pretty much a class that meets together every day and does everything together. I love my district, so much. We have a ton of fun every day, but we have also had a few very spiritual meetings. The other day, we had Quentin L. Cook and his wife come to the MTC to speak for a devotional (he's in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). It was amazing, and I got some great notes. He told us that he knows the voice of the Savior. I was absolutely amazed. Afterwards, my district met up in our classroom for a testimony meeting to reflect on the devotional. The Spirit was SO strong that night as we bore our testimonies and talked a little about the devotional. I was crying when I spoke, and when other people spoke. There were some amazing things said that night. One of the Elders even spoke specifically about me (Elder Snyder, probably one of the nicest guys I've ever met). He said "Have you heard Elder Canto's testimony? He's quiet, but he has SUCH a strong testimony. I love hearing him bear his testimony." I was so touched and so humbled that I was able to touch someone so deeply with my testimony. There was also a story shared by our District Leader, Elder Taylor (he's 19 I think), about his friend's dream. His friend was in this room in heaven, that was full of filing cabinets. In each filing cabinet there were a bunch of folders with information about people's lives. He heard Jesus coming and was afraid that he would look at his file, so he tried to close the door to hide it from Him. But, he wasn't quick enough. Jesus came in, and he went over to a filing cabinet, and pulled out his file. It was labeled "Lustful Thoughts" and it had his name on it. Jesus crossed out His name and wrote "Jesus Christ". Oh my goodness. SUCH a good story. The symbolism in that is amazing. Jesus Christ truly paid the penalty for all of our sins. Each person, and their individual sins. He died so that we would be able to return to live with our Heavenly Father.
He also said for us to take off our nametags. He said that his Stake President had pointed something out to him. He said "I want all of you to take off your nametags for a minute, and turn them around and look at them. Do you see your name on there? Well, there's someone else's name on there too, and it's an important one. Jesus Christ. We are representing Jesus Christ, whenever we wear these nametags. We are here to serve Him, by helping others come unto Christ." I can see why Elder Taylor was made District Leader! He has an amazing testimony. I told him that I wished that I could have a copy of his testimony that he bore that night. There were also some other great testimonies that were shared. The Spirit was seriously so strong that night. I felt it more strongly than I have ever felt it in my whole life.
     Over the past 10 days, I feel like I have changed more than I have in the past 3 years or so, and I also feel like I have learned more than I have in the past 3 years or so (I don't know if that's true, but that's how I feel). It is just amazing how much Portuguese we all know after such a short time. And my testimony has grown SO much since I got here. I have no more doubts about anything. This is truly the Lord's work that we are doing. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and He has provided the way for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father. I have felt the Spirit here so strongly. When I pray, when we are teaching lessons, when people are bearing their testimonies.. just all the time. Of course there are moments where we just joke around with each other and have fun, but everyone needs to take a break from studying once in a while.. even missionaries! I want to say that the MTC almost feels like some sort of church high school.. but I also don't really want to compare it to high school.. haha!
     So my two companions (Elder Brown, & Elder Wilkie) and I, have been teaching this "investigator" (he's actually a member of the church, pretending to be one of the people that he taught on his mission) named Rafael. He only speaks Portuguese (I mean he probably speaks English, but never with us), and he's from Brazil (I'm pretty sure). We just finished our fifth and final lesson with him yesterday. The first 3 lessons, we were doing things all wrong. We had a script with us pretty much, and it made things very impersonal when we just read sentences to him that we had written down. But, for the fourth lesson, we relied on the Spirit to guide us in what we said, and things went AMAZING. I felt the Spirit so strongly during that lesson. My companion was talking, and I started thinking to myself "What are we doing here?? We're here, trying to share the MOST important message in existence, in Portuguese, with a very simple, very limited vocabulary.. and we are able to have the Spirit with us. We have no idea what Rafael is saying sometimes, but we are still able to teach him this important message, after just a few days of studying the gospel and studying Portuguese. This is amazing. We are so blessed to be able to do this and to have learned so much and changed so much in such a short amount of time." I started crying. Right then and there, during the lesson. We are truly missionaries representing the name of Jesus Christ, and we are so blessed because of it. The Lord, and the Spirit, are with us more than ever as we are here serving our missions. They are helping us in so many ways. I could not have learned what I have learned in this short time at the MTC anywhere else in the world.
     I love playing volleyball here! Yesterday I got between 12 and 18 points in a row when I was serving.. haha! It was crazy. Elder Snyder and Elder Brown said I was a volleyball legend or something.. lol. The cafeteria food is pretty good. I've been trying to eat healthy the majority of the time. It's not too hard to do. They have this one line where you pick which type of wrap you want (wheat, spinach, or tomato), and I always pick the spinach one. Then you basically go through the line like at Subway, and you say what you want in your wrap (they have salsa, meat, veggies, pineapple, dried cranberries, rice, walnuts, and other things). It is so good! I get one just about every day for lunch or dinner. There are so many unhealthy options for food here, and you can eat as much as you want.. some people "take advantage" of this opportunity to eat whatever they want.. and that's probably why people gain so much weight here! I've been responsible and eating healthy though. :)
I miss you Alissa! I feel so bad, because you say in most of your letters that you miss me so much and that you cry like every day because of it :( I hope that you are doing alright now though.. and I am praying for you multiple times a day! I love you SOOOOOOOOO much!!!! I am so blessed to be engaged to you, and to have an amazing friend like you. You have so many Christ-like qualities. You are just wonderful[.]

     HOLY CRAP YOU'RE GOING TO SERVE A MISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am so excited. This is the BEST news ever. After having been through a full week at the MTC, I feel so bad for everyone who didn't take advantage of the opportunity to serve a mission (or didn't get a chance). IT. IS. AMAZING. I CANNOT WAIT for you to experience being at the MTC, and I think that you should definitely serve all 18 months of your mission! I feel like when I get to the end of my mission, I'm going to be begging my mission president to let me stay a little longer.. haha! He'll be like "Elder Canto, you've served an honorable mission. You're a great missionary. But, you need to go home, and you need to start focusing on school and marriage." or something like that. xD I think you are going to be an AWESOME missionary, and that anyone you teach or talk to on your mission will just love you. How could they not??? I can't wait to see where you will be serving your mission. I am super excited for you to get your mission call. So you're going to try to leave after your first semester I take it?
     I feel like I'm closer to you right now than I have been since I got here.. I'm typing things that you will be reading! :) I really do love getting letters from you through DearElder almost every day, and I would love it if you could keep doing that! I'm not going to require it though. ;) You're right about me reading your letters at night by the way. There isn't much time during the day for me to do that since I usually get them during or after dinner, and I don't have any free time really until I get back to my room at 9:30pm at night. Each day here at the MTC is so busy. We have no unscheduled time pretty much. But I love it. I love being busy all day, and spending so much time on gospel study and discussing gospel topics. I also love Portuguese, and I have learned way more than I did on Rosetta Stone already (it still helped somewhat though, and I wish I had been able to go through levels 2 and 3!). Eu amo Portugues! haha I love the words that end in ao (with the ~ over the a), they sound so cool.
     I've been writing in my "Trails Make You Stronger" journal every night. Some days, I have written up to 5 pages! And my journal entries seen a significant improvement in quality (I prayed for that to happen!). So many of my prayers have been answered since I got here. I have been more open and outgoing with my district, I have learned a ton of Portuguese in a short amount of time, I have more faith, I have a much stronger testimony, and I have the Spirit with me almost all the time. Oh, and, you found out whether or not you should serve a mission! :) I am SOOOOO happy and excited for you because you have decided to serve a mission. I guess someone else will have to update my blog after you leave for your mission hah[.]
     I'm sure that there is more that I wanted to say, that I probably forgot to mention, but I need to go now!
     I love you so much! Please keep writing to me! <3 I really appreciate it and I feel so special after getting so many letters from you!
     I'll email you again next week! :)

Your fiance,

Elder Canto


  1. By the way, if anyone would like to post a letter that Joseph has sent you, feel free.

  2. Hi Joseph, I am so proud of you and all you do, Whats your mailing address? All my Love Dad

  3. never mind, found it...Love you Son!