Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas, and happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your families! Have a happy new year! Let's make 2015 great! :) I had a great Christmas here in Brazil! It was super hot, and I was tired, but, I loved it! I got to talk to my family on Skype. :)

Elder Canto

Monday, December 15, 2014

Exciting announcement!

Alissa and I have decided on December 1st, 2015, for our wedding date. Whoever plans on going, it'll be in the Seattle, Washington temple. You all now have plenty of time to plan so that you can be there, haha! It's going to be awesome, I promise! :D

Elder Canto & Sister Marshall

Christmas is coming!

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share this video with all of you -- go to (I'm not sure what the link is in English XD). There's this great video about the birth of Jesus Christ -- it's.. 2 minutes and 24 seconds long, I'm pretty sure. Take the time to watch it, and share it with your friends and family! I promise you'll love it! :D It's really awesome!

Happy Holidays, to all of you!

John 3:16


Elder Canto

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

One Year!

Hi everyone!!!

I've officially been on my mission for 1 year!!! I can't believe it. It's been great though! 11 more months to go! :) I don't really have any time left to write now, but, I wanted to mention this, haha :) I burned a white shirt to celebrate, and filmed it XD My MTC companion did too -- he was living with me. We went up on the roof at night to do this XD It was awesome!

We baptized a 56 year-old woman 3 weeks ago, and she is amazing! She has a very strong testimony of the restored gospel and the church, and it was awesome to see her progress. She was in depression when we met her, but now, she is a lot happier. What happened was, 3 years and 5 months ago, her husband was run over by a bus, in front of her.. and then, she entered into depression, and moved here, from Sao Paulo, to live with her mom. About 2 months ago, her mom passed away, and then 2 days later, her sister told her that she had to leave her house, since it was in her name, and not her mom's. So now, she's living with her half-sister, but, it's not so great there, because her husband is always smoking, and there is a boy with autism there, who doesn't really realize what he's doing, and it's difficult to be around him. We're helping her find a new place to live, and maybe a part-time job. Her daughter, in Sao Paulo, is trying to save money to get a new apartment, so that she can go and live with her. So yeah, that's the situation with her for now. But, I want you all to know, that living the gospel truly changes people's lives.

I have a very strong testimony of the work that I am doing here on my mission. It is truly the work of salvation. Even though many do not believe, I do. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one true church here on the Earth. It is the church of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is God's church. We have a living prophet, and apostles, who receive revelation from God -- and so, it is God who is directing the church, not men. I know, without a doubt, that this church is true. I will never deny my testimony of this church. Thank you all for your love and support, and your letters and emails, and packages.

I love you all! Have a great holiday season!!!

Elder Canto

P.S. I was going to send pictures, but the SD card reader isn't working on this computer.. oh well! :S

Monday, November 10, 2014

One More Year Left!!!

I'm going to have to be really quick here -- I have 1 minute left.. hah!

This Sunday will be the baptism of our investigator, Tarcilia, and I am so happy for her! She is excited for this Sunday as well :) It was so amazing, the day that we visited her, when she accepted the invitation to be baptized. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation, and told her how her ancestors have been waiting and praying for the day that she would be able to accept the restored gospel in her life, and be able to perform their temple ordenances for them. She will be the first person in her whole family line to become a member of Christ's church, and she will have a lot of family history work to do! After the lesson, we asked her what she needs to do, and she said "I need to have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of my sins, be baptized..." and then she paused, and started crying, thinking about what we had taught her, and then she said, through tears, "I want to be baptized.", and we both had tears in our eyes too. I will never forget this lesson that we had with Tarcilia. She is an amazing person, who has a lot of faith. I am so honored to be able to say that I was one of the missionaries who taught her. We will be continuing to work with her this week to prepare her for baptism. :) Tonight, we are going to be having a family home evening in her house, and we're going to watch the movie about Thomas S. Monson, our living prophet. (it's called, "On The Lord's Errand")

Yesterday at church, I taught the Gospel Principles class for the first time ever. I was nervous, but, I was thinking it wouldn't be too hard. It was even easier than I was thinking that it would be!!!! I was reluctant to accept the invitation to teach the class yesterday, but, in the future, I will happily accept. :)

Oh, by the way, Halloween basically wasn't celebrated here.. :(

And -- I'm in a new area now! Mangabeira II, I. I'm back in the city again! Conde is literally in the middle of nowhere. XD My new companion is Elder Wellington. He is 19 and from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He's awesome! I am learning a ton with him. We are a great team. :D

Anyways, I need to get going now, but, I hope that you all have a great week!!! I love you all, and I am always praying for you!

I now have a few days less than a year left on my mission.. it's hard to believe! I think I'll be getting home on November 5th, 2015. Looks like I'll be having another uneventful Halloween here.. haha!

Elder Canto

Monday, September 29, 2014

This one time.. I ate armadillo.. and.. wait, what?

Hi everyone!

This week, we had a lady come to church with her daughter, after a few weeks of bad luck (nobody coming to church). It wasn't exactly what we were expecting, since we had spoken with various people, and 5 of them were telling us that they would for sure be going, and 8 of them were saying that they would maybe be able to make it.. 5 + 8 = 1? This math is a bit tricky.. haha! But yeah, it's always like this -- we have 10+ people who we invited, who said they'd go, and then Sunday morning, there are 0-4 people at church.. I'm not sure why, but.. that's just how it is! It's always like this.. always!

Anyways, I learned how to make tapioca last week (finally -- and it's really easy, too.. haha! oh well.. -- basically, you have this certain type of flour, and you spread it out on a frying pan, and it all sticks together, and it's more or less like a burrito in the end -- but yeah.. it's really good! if you're confused, look it up. haha), we walked 2 hours from Conde to Valentina for our district meeting (2 weeks in a row now), um.. what else.. I went on an exchange and stayed in Valentina for one day with Elder Lisboa, and we were doing a bunch of street contacts and door contacts -- he's really good at it! I bascially just stayed quiet most of the time and helped when I could -- sometimes it's hard to participate when the other person starts the contact, and also, when it's between 2 Brazilians, I barely have time to think, since they're talking so fast! hah

My companion and I are becoming good friends (it wasn't easy.. hah) -- but yeah, we're doing lots of good things here in Conde now -- basically, this week we dropped almost all of our investigators who weren't progressing in any way, shape, or form, and then, we found a ton of new people to teach. It's working out pretty well! We also received a reference from a sister missionary in another area, and we went and contacted him yesterday, and he told us about how he was being taught by two elders 4 or 5 years ago, and then he lost contact with them. He said that it is his dream to be baptized (I can't believe he said that -- this is something any missionary would love to hear from an investigator XD) -- so we're going to be teaching him this week, and mark a baptismal date for him. This weekend is General Conference, a broadcast where the leaders of the church speak to everyone, and I am really excited. Watching General Conference is always awesome, but, as a missionary, it's the coolest thing ever! haha! If you're interested in watching it, go to on October 4th and 5th, and you can watch it live, online. I promise that you won't regret it! :)

OH! I forgot to mention something very important. Two Saturdays ago.. I ate ARMADILLO!!! XD I didn't know what I had eaten until the next day, when I asked a member here in Conde, who speaks English, "What's Tatu?", and he told me, and I laughed hysterically for a few minutes. XD I had been thinking that that was what it was, seeing as it had a shell and all.. haha! I didn't know that people eat armadillo.. But anyways..

I love you all -- have a wonderful week!!! Keep me in your prayers, please!

Be sure to watch General Conference this weekend!!!

Elder Canto

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Transfer #7

Hey everyone! So yesterday night, we got our phone call about transfers. It was very exciting news.. everyone is staying here in Conde! Again! All 4 of us! haha

 I'm planning on making goals for Elder Cesar and I to improve on the work that we're doing here in Conde -- we have lots of room for improvement! Oh man.. I have 7 minutes left to email.. yikes.. hah, this always happens

So there was a parade on Sunday to celebrate Independence Day (Brazil), 1 week late, but, it was still awesome! It went on for about 3 hours, and there is a crazy amount of schools here in Conde. They had the bands from each school marching and playing music, and there were other things as well. The Brazilian style of clothing is pretty interesting for parties and celebrations. Oh, and at night, on the way home, the power had gone out in the center of the town, so we walked along the streets and it was completely dark -- I used our cell phone to see where I was walking XD The cobblestone roads and sidewalks like to stick out and try and trip you

I'm excited to have 6 more weeks here in Conde. We have 2 investigators who we've been working with for about a month, and we're hoping that they will feel more ready to be baptized soon. Other than that, we found some new investigators last week, and we're beginning to teach them this week.

I've been studying Preach My Gospel a lot more the past week, and it's helping a lot! I was reading through The Book of Mormon when I arrived in the mission field, and then I read part of The New Testament, and various other things. I realized that I was barely studying Preach My Gospel! I'm planning on reading it a lot more from now on -- it helps a ton with missionary work. Lots of great suggestions and advice.

I need to go now, but, I want you all to know that I love you, and I am so grateful for your letters and emails. I know that the work that I am doing here is true the work of salvation, and I have such a strong testimony of the things that I am teaching people about here on my mission. I love being a missionary, despite the many difficulties and trials that experience here. I am learning so much! I am definitely a different person than I was when left -- for the better. I am still the same person, personality-wise, though, of course! haha

Have a great week, everyone! Keep me in your prayers!

Elder Canto

Monday, August 25, 2014

8-25-14 Update -- I'm an angel!

Hey everyone -- this will be a really short update this week

We had a Zone Conference on Thursday, so I got to see all of my friends (almost all of them -- 2 of the zones that are farthest inland had their own conference)! Matheus was confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday (Sunday). Oh also, we had some interesting experiences.. haha -- prepare yourself XD So first, we went to someone's house that we had talked to a week before, just to invite him to church, and his dad was home, and said that he said for him to tell us that he wouldn't come to the door, or he didn't want to, or something -- and so then we started talking with his dad, who was drunk, and he kept inviting us to come in, and we were like "Oh, no no no. We have a teaching visit to go to right now! We're going to be late!" and he was like "no!!! Come in! Seriously! I won't hurt you!" XD and he pulled us by our arms and was like "Here, sit on this sofa", and then, he told me to go use the bathroom, and I was like "but.. I don't need to! I used the bathroom 30 minutes ago!" but he kept insisting, so my companion was like "just go and come back..." so I did, and then he was offering to make us food or something, and we were like "no no no! you don't need to do that!" and he was complaining about how his son is 19, and his girlfriend, who's 16, is living with his son in his house -- hah, but anyways, someone showed up at the door, and the guy left for a minute, and we went outside and started talking to them, and then the guy came out and was like "hey! where did they go???" and we were like "we're here!" (he couldn't see us from the door), but we were finally able to leave, and we marked a visit with him for wednesday.. haha! That should be interesting.

Then, yesterday, we sat down on the curb to call someone, and this homeless guy sat next to me, and was counting money in his hand, and eventually, I decided to talk to him, after I got off of the phone, and he was a little bit crazy.. and this woman showed up, and started telling him he should go home (she's his friend), and then she sat down with us, and we started talking to her, and she was like "You're an angel! You're so young! You're my son." and she started crying, and staring at me, and said "You're like an angel!" a few times, and then at one point, she was like "For me, there's God, and then, there's you, close to God" (some sort of ranking system.. XD) "You're special. Isn't he special?? Isn't he an angel??" (to my companion) -- haha! Anyways, we also marked a visit with her, for Thursday. Ten seconds later, we were walking, and this girl called us over to talk to her, and asked what church we were from -- we marked a teaching visit with her for this week as well! This is VERY rare -- for someone on the street to call us over to them -- often, they just lie to us ("Yeah, I'll go to church on Sunday for sure!") or say no, to get us to go away.. haha -- don't worry, we have lots of successful street contacts as well! I was just making a generalization here XD

But anyways, I'm sure some other funny things happened this week, but.. I think I'll end this letter here. Oh -- we had 2 investigators at church yesterday, and one of them, we weren't expecting to show up to church! It was pretty awesome. We had a baptism marked for this Saturday, but the girl who we had marked the baptism for, didn't go to church on Sunday, and she was giving us excuses to not go to church.. I'm not sure what happened, because she was really interested in our lessons during the week! We're going to visit her this week to figure out what's going on.. hah -- oh hey, I guess this wasn't so short after all XD

I would like to bear my testimony quickly here, to close -- I know that this church is true, and I have a strong testimony of the work that Alissa and I are doing on our missions. It is truly the work of salvation. I love being a missionary!

Have a great week, everyone! :)

Elder Canto

All 3 of my companions up until now. I don't know what Elder Anderson was doing.. sorry Elder Anderson! I only have this one photo! haha
Inline image 1

My friends who arrived with me on January 14th in Brazil -- Elder Buechele and Elder Wilson
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The central part of Conde

Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Baptism!

Hey everyone! My companion Elder Cesar and I had another baptism this Sunday! We baptized Matheus, Jessica's cousin (the girl we baptized 2 or 3 weeks ago) It was really great, and some of his family was able to come. We found a family of 5 to teach this week, and a few other people, and they seem really interested in our lessons. Three people showed up at church yesterday, and really liked it, and said they'll go next Sunday as well! :)

I love being here on the mission, although I do miss my family and friends, and Alissa!!! a ton.. I've been on a mission for 8 1/2 months now -- it's hard to believe! But I have learned so much already, and I am loving it -- as hard as it as at times. I'm getting really good at Portuguese! :) I'm starting to forget words in English now, too! It's really.. scary.. haha!

It's hot -- like always. When it rains, it's for a minute, and then stops. It's not usually constant.. weird.. o.O

My companion and I are getting along for the most part -- it's important that we do, otherwise, it's hard to teach and everything..!

I'm out of time, otherwise I'd write more.. but..

Have a great week, everyone! I love you all!

Elder Canto

Photo from the baptism on Sunday
Inline image 1

To be Mormon is to be happy! :D

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fwd: Update - 7-28-14

I almost made it through the whole month of July without writing an update for my blog! Yikes!

Hi everyone! We had a baptism this Saturday! After 6 long months in the mission field.. but, I think I had a lot of things to learn up until this point, and now, this is only the beginning. :D I'm going to baptize everyone! haha -- just kidding. But the person who we baptized, her name is Jessica, and she's 16 years old.

The area that I'm in (the past 5 weeks now), is called Conde, and it's a small town in the middle of nowhere. It's surrounded by forests and hills, hah. It's only 15 minutes away from the ocean though! The beach here is really awesome -- but we can't go on the sand or in the water.. it's nice to look at though! XD

I have learned so much this month -- it's crazy. I also gained a stronger testimony of the power of fasting! When you are fasting, you are more in tune to the promptings from the Spirit -- it's true!

I've been arguing with my companion Elder Cesar quite a bit, but, we're.. surviving. haha! Nah it's not that bad. We do argue a lot some days, but we get along for the most part. I'm not sure what the problem is... I just know that this is good preparation for marriage! We have to resolve our problems and continue working together. If we're not united, it's hard to have the Spirit with us.. so.. we need to work on that! But I'm learning a lot from these difficulties that I've been having with my companion. When we're struggling and things are rough, that's when we pray the most and learn the most! So, I'm grateful for my trials and difficulties -- as hard as they are at times.

I have a stronger testimony than ever of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that it is something that everyone can benefit from, if they study it, and live it's teachings. The gospel allows us to live better and happier lives. It's not just a list of things to do either -- it's a way of life! Jesus Christ showed us the way, he left us a perfect example, through His life, which He gave for us. It was not easy, not in the least. Our part, that we have been asked to do, is much easier than what He went through! We just need to have faith in Him, repent of our sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. And faith, faith is essential here. Without faith, the other 4 things cannot be accomplished! It is important that we not only have faith, but that we show our faith, and allow it to grow, by following His example, and putting our faith into action.

I love you all! Have a great week!!!

Elder Canto

The beach in Jacuma (the other part of our area)

The beach in Tambau (city)

Photo from the baptism (it turned out pretty cool with the sun there like that!)

Monday, June 9, 2014

World Cup this month!!! Update -- 6-9-2014

Hey everyone!

We're actually starting to make some real progress here! Yesterday night, we taught an investigator, who said he wants to serve a mission like us, and he also said that the Mormon church is the most correct church on the earth! This guy is seriously awesome! I hope that he actually follows through with this mission dream that he has! It was really funny, last night, during the lesson, Elder Anderson would say one sentence -- or even half a sentence, and then he would start talking again and interrupt him.. XD We only got through the "Where did we come from?" part of the Plan of Salvation lesson, in about 40 minutes.. XD I think it's already pretty clear that this guy will want to be baptized! :) What a blessing! We met him through teaching our English class, along with another investigator who is really awesome as well. The English class is awesome for getting people more comfortable with the church! Plus, it's just a lot of fun to teach it in general. :)

I realized that I posted a bit of personal information, connected with names, here on my blog.. so, I'm going to be a bit more careful about that from now on! I might use fake names or something. Our investigator that we taught last night asked us not to tell anyone anything that he said, when we were leaving, and it made me realize that I need to be careful about what I say. People are very open with us sometimes, because they trust us.

So yeah, the other investigator that we got to know through teaching the English class, is making some pretty significant changes in his life. His family loves us too, and they forbid us to stop being his friend and trying to help him.. haha! Works for me! We basically visit this guy every day, and it's been such a great experience to get to know him. He's probably my best friend in Brazil at this point. He has made this area that I'm serving in, really special, and really awesome. The other day, after going to church on Sunday, he was dropping us off at someone's house, and he said "Hey, you guys performed a miracle!" and we were like "Huh? What did we do??" and he said, "I went to church!" -- he hadn't gone to any church in about 15 years.. I guess he's right! We did perform a miracle! :D He came to church this Sunday as well. Seriously, this guy is awesome.

We're going to try and pass by all 43 of the people that we have addresses for this week, and see who's still interested and who's not. I went through and counted, and we've only taught 10 of them at least once, and 3 of them 2 or more times.. a lot of them, are just never home! It's difficult, but we're persistent!

Have a great week! I love you all!!!

Elder Canto

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We all got Brazil soccer jerseys for the World Cup, which is starting this month! :D We also got permission to watch the Brazil games at member's houses! Oh one more thing, we were told this week, that we're going to start focusing 50% on proselyting, and 50% on helping less-active members return to the church. I'm excited for the experiences that we're going to have, and to be able to be a little more creative with our lessons! :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Weekly Update -- 5/26/14 - The Book of Mormon is true! :D

Hi everyone!

I actually have time to write an update today! I'm getting less and less emails as time goes on, which is a good thing, because when I started out, I was trying to email way too many different people each week, and having to read a ton of emails as a result of that.

So I just went to the dentist about 30 minutes ago, because one of my teeth has been hurting every time that something cold touches it, ever since my first transfer in Brazil -- I just never got around to going to the dentist! The dentist in Brazil is pretty normal, fortunately. XD The hospitals though.. I'm not really sure. But anyways, so they couldn't find any problems with my tooth with the x-rays they took, but I'll be going back later this week to talk with a specialist about it. They mentioned something about a canal, which I'm assuming is a root canal. I've never had one of those.. but it doesn't sound fun, from what I've heard! Hopefully I won't have to do that, or if I do, hopefully it won't be too bad, or expensive!

So this week, we had one investigator at church, finally! But, unfortunately, he didn't seem to happy to be there. We've been teaching him for a long time, pretty much since our first week in Geisel, and things have just been going South lately.. I'm not sure what's going to happen with him, but we'll probably figure it out this week.

Today is P-day (or, Preparation Day -- once a week, on Mondays, till 6pm), and we're going to be playing volleyball at 3pm, and then we're going to get ice cream afterwards. We're going to have members there, and the other 2 Elders, and an investigator. It should be awesome! We did the same thing last week as well. We're planning on doing this every week, if possible. Maybe not volleyball every time, but we'll see.

This week went pretty well. Yesterday, we met this drunk guy, and we decided that we're going to try to help him turn his life around. After we talked to him on the street, about an hour later, we found him sitting in front of his house, and talked to him again. His brother-in-law showed up, and I'm not sure if he was drunk, or just crazy, but I was asking what his name was, and he was like "I don't want anything to do with your church!", in response to this question.. haha! Then he went inside for a minute, and came back out, and asked my companion a question, and he responded with "Uh huh", and then this guy started making fun of him and repeating "Uh huh" over and over again. He said something about how we don't believe in God, then he got on his motorcycle, and continued to say "Uh huh" a few more times, and then he drove away, laughing hysterically, like a maniac... It was hilarious, to be honest. XD

I am still loving being a missionary, and being here on a mission, as usual. :D We have all sorts of experiences, talking to tons of different people each week. Oh, here's something -- we ate Goiaba with cheese the other day, for dessert, at a lunch appointment. It was probably the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten here in Brazil... haha! Oh and the other day, I saw the legendary weird food -- chicken feet, on a plate of chicken, at a different lunch appointment. I didn't eat it, but, it was there!

I saw this huge spider.. last week? I think it was. That's the first time I've seen one here! We also had a tiny scorpion in our house the other night when we got home! There's monkeys here as well, I saw those the other day in some trees, along with an iguana (I think).

It's hot, as always, and I don't think I will ever like living in heat like this.. but I'm used to it, for now.. haha!

Oh, so I had a few cool experiences this week. One of our investigators told us that his family really likes us, and he also said something that really struck me -- "When they look at you, they feel something different." We really are examples to everyone around us, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One way that people are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, is by our examples. Keep that in mind, always! Do the right things, and be a good example. Serve others, and show people that you care for them. Don't be afraid to share your beliefs, with anyone. I do it every day! It's not that hard! :)

We also had a cool experience with another investigator. He said that he had prayed about The Book of Mormon, and that he had gotten an answer, that it is true. I feel the Spirit really strongly throughout the rest of the lesson, after he said that. We're going to be teaching him again this week, and I have really high hopes for him! He's awesome! My friend Elder Shields, said something that I will never forget, the other day -- nobody has ever told him that they received an answer that The Book of Mormon was not true. They only say that they didn't receive an answer, or that they did, and that the answer was yes. I myself know that The Book of Mormon is true, and I have a strong testimony of its teachings, which are the teachings of Jesus Christ himself. Anyone who reads this book, and studies it, and ponders about the things that they read, and prays to God, asking Him if these things are true, with faith, and an open heart and mind, WILL receive an answer, through the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon IS true -- but I can't convince anyone of this. Only God can, through His holy messenger, the Holy Ghost.

I miss you all so much, and I love you. I hope that you all have a great week! Feel free to send me some emails if you get a chance! :)

Elder Canto

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekly Update 5/19/14 -- We're teaching an English class!

Hey everyone!

It's been way too long since I've written a weekly update! (once again)

I'm going to try to keep these short for the most part, so that I will have time to write them each week, and so that I can respond to personal emails and read the emails that I get. I know I already promised to try to write more often -- but that didn't happen.. so.. no more promises! But I am going to try to write these more often -- again.. haha!

So I left my first area, Manaira, after 14 weeks, (we had an emergency transfer to my new area, Geisel II), and then after 3 weeks in Geisel II, I once again was not transferred, and did not change companions! Just like transfers #1 and #2! Haha -- So my companion is still Elder Anderson. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, his girlfriend sent him an email saying that she wanted to take a break from their relationship... it's been rough for him, but he's hanging in there! She also didn't show up to Skype with him on Mother's Day.. oh, by the way, I got to talk to pretty much everyone in my family on Mother's Day, and it was awesome! I was not expecting that! Apparently you can do conference calls on Skype now for free! I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to talk to Alissa on the phone or on Skype or anything on Mother's Day, and I was also a little jealous when I heard that she had talked to my mom and my brother that day.. but, all is well. We are patiently waiting for each other still!

So anyways, I've been learning a lot in the mission field, and I am loving it here. I wouldn't want to live here, mostly because of the heat, but I am happy to be serving a mission here for these 2 years. I am meeting so many people here and making lots of friends -- who don't speak English. XD I actually have met a lot of people here who speak English (somewhat). This lady taught us a few words in French the other day when we were talking with her after knocking on her door -- I asked her to teach us some things, because she said she was studying French, haha! Oh by the way, my companion and I are teaching an English class at the church now! Our first class was on Thursday night, and we taught the alphabet (and the song too, haha!), and a few words. Our next class is going to be tomorrow, and we're going to print out the lyrics to "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz, and have someone play the song, and we're going to teach everyone to sing it. The lyric sheets will have English on one side and Portuguese on the other side. I would encourage all of you to learn a second language if you haven't already.. it's really fun! You can just switch languages whenever you want, haha!

My grandpa keeps asking me if I've had any converts yet -- and the answer is still no, for now. But, I've had quite a few people who I met with a bunch of times, and they listened to all of our lessons. Nobody seems to want to go to church, or they just don't have time (or don't want to make time). It's been about 6-7 weeks since I've had someone come to church -- it's pretty disappointing! Every week, we get all these people who say they'll go, or they'll try to, and then Sunday arrives, and nobody is there! I don't understand it.. but I'll keep trying, until the very end! We are supposed to endure to the end, aren't we? So why not endure to the end of my mission? :)

Right now, we're trying to get to know people better, and have better relationships with the people we teach, because this Elder we were living with in our last transfer, said that the people that you will baptize on your mission, are the people who are your best friends. So we're trying to be really good friends with people, and not just jump right into a lesson every time we visit someone in their house, and just follow the promptings of the Spirit. We're getting to know this guy named Daniel right now, who was best friends with these other Elders about 10 years ago, and he's been going to the English classes every week (Tuesday and Thursday nights at 6pm, until 7pm). He's pretty awesome. He has problems with drinking and smoking, and he said he only believes in things that he can see, but, we have high hopes for him. We're going to start moving more toward teaching lessons this week I think.

I guess that's all for this week. We cleaned our house a ton this morning, because after all of the missionaries who have passed through there.. it was filthy! And we're planning on moving to a place that's actually inside of our area soon -- our president said for us to look for one, so we needed to do some cleaning.

I miss you all, I love you, and I'm always praying for you. Keep me in your prayers as well please, and please write to me! :)

Sempre fiel!

Elder Canto

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mission Update -- Transfer #3!

Hey everyone!

So I just started my third transfer here in Joao Pessoa, Brazil. I'm still in my first area, but that's fine with me, because my ward is awesome, and this area is one of the best areas in the mission (I heard this -- I believe it). There are lots of rich people here.. hah -- our lunches are always really awesome. My new companion is Elder Anderson, who's from Pennsylvania (we're neighbors in the US! hah). We've only been working together since last Wednesday, but I am loving this transfer already. We both have only been in Brazil for 3 months (as of today), and so I thought that we would have trouble understanding people -- but we've been doing really well! It's nice that we're at about the same level with Portuguese, because with my other companion, who is Brazilian, we would be talking with someone, and then I would get lost, but the conversation would continue between him and the other person -- so in the end, I had no idea what was said. It's hard to get to know people in situations like this. But now, we both have to understand everything that the other person is saying, and so we're learning/improving a lot more with our Portuguese than we were in our other transfers. It's awesome! I feel a greater connection with the people I'm teaching now, because of this. Also, another thing that I was surprised about with this transfer, is that I'm senior companion. My companion served in the US in Oregon for 6 months, so he has been on his mission for 9 months already -- I've only been on a mission for 4 months! The one reason that I can see for this, is that he is new to the area, and I've been here for 12 weeks already -- so I know the area and the people better. Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity for me to learn and grow. That's part of the reason why I'm here, serving a mission! So I'm happy to have this opportunity.

We're teaching quite a few people right now -- but nobody made it to church yesterday, unfortunately. We also had a baptism scheduled for yesterday, but our investigator -- Cicero -- didn't show up! He said that he needed to have his barber shop open because he needed the money and Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week for him. I talked to him about the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy by not working on Sundays, and he said he'll alternate weeks having it open and closed.. at least that's a start.. hah. He also said that he didn't feel prepared for baptism yet, so this week we're going to really focus on teaching him and making sure he understands everything and truly has a testimony of The Restored Gospel.

We went to a Ward Council Meeting yesterday night, which was really good, because we got a bunch of phone numbers so that we can work more with the members here. Afterwards, my companion and I were talking with this American guy in our ward, and I spoke in English for a second, and he was like "Hey, you're cheating! You have to speak Portuguese!" haha! He's an English professor here in Brazil, but he speaks Portuguese too -- his wife is Brazilian.

Anyways.. what else.. I'm doing really well here in Brazil. All of the stomach sickness has stopped for the most part, which I'm really happy about! Alissa leaves for the MTC this Wednesday, and I am so excited for her!

I love you all, and you are in my prayers!

Elder Canto

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mission Update -- 3/31/14

Hey everyone! I hope you're all having a great week!

This past week was tough, we had a lot of teaching appointments fall through, and the person we had set up a baptismal interview with for Friday didn't make it to the interview. But, he still wants to be baptized this Sunday, so all is well! Our district has a goal for this week to double all of our goals for lessons and finding new people to teach. We're going to have to work really hard, but it is going to be awesome. Everyone is really excited to try and reach these goals this week.

On Saturday, my companion and I were stuck at the church for just about the whole day, because someone's son passed away in our ward, and there was also a double-wedding (2 seperate couples) the same day. Imagine that, a funeral and a wedding in the same building, at almost the same time.. crazy! The funeral was supposed to be at 3pm, but it got moved to 8pm. They had to tell everyone to come back later in the day. We got stuck watching the gate and letting people in (there are walls and gates around our chapel, and just about every building here!) for a few hours -- but it wasn't too bad. We even got wedding cake at the end of the reception! The funeral was after that... we had this idea to try and help people out though, which I hope works out. We set up tables by the doors and gave out copies of The Liahona (church magazine) and "The Plan of Salvation" pamphlets to people, and got a bunch of names and addresses to share a message about the plan of salvation to help comfort people. We're going to be teaching this lesson to probably 6 people tomorrow. I really hope that we can help these people out in this hard time in their lives. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, made this wonderful plan for us to return to live with Him and with God after this life -- The Plan of Salvation. I am so grateful for this knowledge.

Like I said, I'll try to write updates more often from now on! Even if they're not very long sometimes, I'll try to at least be more consistent. I appreciate all of the emails that I've gotten -- I'll try to respond to as many as I can! Have a great week everyone!

I love you all and I am always praying for you!

Elder Canto

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mission Update -- 10 Weeks in Brazil

OI TUDO MUNDO! (hi everyone) I'M BACK! Still living, yep.

(Wow, when I post this, it'll have been 6 weeks since my last update... oops...)

So we have transfers every 6 weeks, and I have 2 weeks left in my second transfer right now (hard to believe). I stayed in the same area with the same companion this transfer. I like this area a lot, so I didn't mind staying here for another 6 weeks. My companion is pretty awesome as well, so I'm glad to have had another transfer working with him. We haven't had any baptisms, yet -- but we have had people come to church a few times, and we're always finding new people to teach. We just have to keep trying -- I have faith! When we exercise our faith, we will see miracles.

Anyways, I'm getting the hang of Portuguese now! Speaking is getting to be easier -- more natural. Understand other people is the hard part! I'm getting better at that as well though. Before I got my mission call in July, I wasn't sure where I wanted to go, but I wanted to learn Spanish. Portuguese isn't Spanish, but it's really close! I actually like it a lot more than Spanish, to be honest. I think I'll try to learn Spanish during my second year in the mission field.

For the first 8 weeks here, I had been feeling sick (my stomach) on and off all the time, but I had another Elder give me a Priesthood blessing, and for the past 2 weeks, I haven't had any problems whatsoever! I think that was only the second time in my life that I'd gotten a Priesthood blessing -- but I definitely have a testimony of the healing power of the Priesthood now. I also had Dengue in my sixth and seventh weeks here (fever/headache/feeling really weak -- you get it from mosquitos). Brazil was kicking my butt for a while there! All is well now though. :)

I'm getting used to the heat -- it's not so bad once the sun sets around 5pm. The food here is always really good (and is always beans and rice, haha!). I don't mind walking everywhere since everything is pretty close. I kinda like living in the city -- but I still prefer suburban living over urban or country living. But yeah, I'm happy here in Brazil. I'm really enjoying teaching (and still have lots of room for improvement, hah), and talking with people, and helping people. My testimony and faith have grown so much since I left for my mission in December, and I am learning a lot here. I'm so grateful for this experience.

Oh, one last thing. My fiancee, Alissa, got her mission call this month! She'll be serving in the Chesapeake, Virginia mission, from April 16th, 2014 to October 16th, 2015. So she'll be getting back 1 month before I do (November 17th, 2015). I'm really excited for her to serve a mission -- I know that she is going to do great things on her mission! She's amazing, and has such a strong testimony of the gospel, and a lot of faith. It'll also be good, because we'll be able to help each other and give each other advice on missionary work and things.

I'll try to write updates more often in the future! I love and miss you all! I'm always praying for you.

Have a great week!

Feel free to write! Tchau!

-Elder Canto

P.S. I should be getting a voice recorder next month! (thank you, Alissa! :) )

By The Way:

Alissa here. By the way:::

Joseph will be posting things on his blog while I am away. There is a way to do this, and I taught him how. I know how a lot of you are asking about who will update his blog. HE will! Him and I both will update our blogs on our own while we are away (By the way, my blog is in the links section on his blog, and his blog is in the link section in mine!).

Anyways! Hopefully Joseph will post soon!

And be sure to be on the lookout for my postings sometime after April 16th on my blog! How exciting will this be!

I hope you guys have a great day!


1.) Joseph is feeling well.
2.) He is more fluent in the language, and he is able to have conversations with people now.
3.) He feels trunky from time to time
4.) I've sent him a voice recorder on the 13th of March. Hopefully it gets to him by next month
5.) I also sent him some American food
6.) He says the milk tastes funny up there
7.) Yes we still are making plans to get married after we get back (A lot of Prayer involved; I cannot doubt anything about this man! ;) )

Anyways --
He is gorgeous. <3 ;)
Even with his deep farmers tan!
I love him.

I don't know what his new post will say, but it may go in more detail about what is in my list above (minus number 5 and number 7. He doesn't know about the details of number 5).  

-Alissa Marshall 

Monday, February 10, 2014

4 Weeks in Brazil!

Hey everyone!

Again, I apologize for missing another week of writing an update! It's hard to read emails and respond to people individually and do everything I want to do in 60 minutes! I'm going to have to start making these shorter -- last time it was 2 pages front and back handwritten -- way too much! haha

So anyways, we had 2 people that we were teaching last week, and one of them came to church, but one of them dropped us, and the other one did as well, later in the week, due to personal issues. So we focused on finding new people to teach last week. We found a few -- but we keep having appointments fall through and all sorts of bad luck, like, for example, I kept feeling sick after lunch, after 2 or 3 hours of working, so I needed to go to our apartment and rest for a while a few times, which meant missing out on a few hours of working. I talked to the mission president's wife about my stomach issues, and she said that this happens with a lot of Americans -- because our stomachs aren't used to the food here at first, so she said to take some medicine for my stomach before eating, to eat less, and to eat more slowly. Hopefully this will help! I want to be able to work! :)

I don't know if I mentioned this yet -- I find it very funny -- there is a lot of American stuff here. For example, tons of people have shirts with English words on them (and they have no idea what they say, haha!), most of the movies they watch here are from the U.S., and TV shows too -- and the best part -- is that a lot of the music I hear out on the streets is in English, and is music that I recognize! When was the last time you heard music in Portuguese where you live? Never, right? haha -- but they do have some great music in Portuguese/Spanish here, based on what I've heard on the streets. There are people who push around these carts full of DVDs that people can buy (idk about rent), and they blast music to get people's attention. Think of it as a mobile Redbox machine -- haha

Well that's all I have time to write this week. I love you all and miss you, and I pray for your well-being each day. :) Feel free to email me and say hi, tell me how you're doing, ask questions, send pictures, anything really (keep it missionary-appropriate thought XD).

I have a testimony of the work that I'm doing here, and a desire to share my knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone who is willing to listen. It has brought my family and I so much happiness and joy, and I want others to be able to experience it as well. We need to follow Jesus Christ's example, and have faith in Him, and in God, and trust in them.

Have a spectacular week!

Elder Canto 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Letter to Alissa - February 3rd 2014

So this week has been pretty great actually! I feel like I'm actually doing missionary work now! We found a few people who said they'd go to church. One of them is named Neto, and the other one is named Alexandre. Neto is just awesome. He's 27 years old, and he's super spiritual. When we met with him at his house the first time, he was saying how he doesn't really have a religion. His religion is him praying to God. He reads the Bible once in a while, I think. Anyways, we taught him the first missionary lesson, and invited him to be baptized, and he said yes! :D He came to church on Sunday too!!! And he seemed to really like it! He had a lot of input and questions, and it was great. The other guy, Alexandre, is probably in his 30s or 40s, and we taught him the first lesson too, on the same day. He seemed to be pretty receptive of it, and we had actually invited him to be baptized during our street contact with him, and he accepted then! It's crazy how often that happens here.. haha! But yeah, he was supposed to go to church on Sunday, but he didn't show up. We went to Neto's house and Alexandre's too, Sunday morning, before church, but neither of them answered and there was no sign of them. It was raining, and we got pretty wet, so it was freezing in the chapel with the A/C on! haha! I was praying during the Sacrament that our investigators would show up, and then a few minutes later, one of the Sisters' investigators showed up, and so did Neto! I bore my testimony in Fast and Testimony Meeting, but I waited a long time, so when I finally got up the courage to do it, I only had like 1 minute to talk!

Neto went to Gospel Principles and Elders Quorum after that, and he seemed to like it a lot. At the end of church, we showed him the baptismal font, and explained a bit about it. He said he has quite a few doubts about our religion right now, but that he'd go to church a few more times to learn more about it. Awesome! I hope we can help him resolve his doubts! Mormonism is a huge thing. I don't even know everything there is to know yet! I can see why he has doubts about things if I did once in a while last year after being Mormon for my whole life! So yeah, hopefully, we can teach the other 3 lessons to him this week, and he will be baptized next Sunday! :) We need to follow-up with Alexandre though. Oh and apparently he can't read very well, so we'll have to work with that too. But I have a good feeling about him! :)

I feel like I'm trunky every day, thinking about how awesome it's going to be to go home and be able to do the things I like to do, and be with you again :D and my family! But, my companion said the first 2 transfers were really long/slow for him, so maybe after these first 2 transfers, I'll stop being like this. I guarantee that I will still miss you and being home and everything, but I will have accepted that I'm going to be here until November of 2015. :) It's hard being away from everyone and everything, but, I mean, missionary work itself isn't too hard, not yet anyways, it's actually really enjoyable. Especially seeing investigators progress. :)

Other than that, I'm doing well, and every day is enjoyable is different ways. I find American or English-speaking people once in a while, especially at church! There are quite a few! And it's nice to be able to actually talk how I want and say exactly what I want to say, and not feel like I'm dumb/mute (joking, haha!). I don't know if I mentioned this yet, but there are a TON of people with shirts in English here. Oh and the other day, I saw this lady with a shirt that said I <3 Nueva York. haha! The heart was upside down for some reason, and the text was in Spanish and English, and not Portuguese. I was like, "Yeah! Woo, New York!" haha, but yeah, there are a ton of shirts in English, and people don't even know what they say sometimes XD There's also a ton of American music here, like, the majority of the songs I've heard, have been in English, I'm pretty sure. haha! Also, the majority of the movies they watch here, are from America, and have Portuguese subtitles XD or Portuguese voiceovers. Same with the video games, almost all from America!

Anyways, so I'm not writing a newsletter this week I guess, due to the lack of time (I had 26 emails this week! A lot of them were just missionary updates, so I skimmed through them[…]) but yeah, I spent half of my time reading emails!

I love you so much. I really, really do. I miss you every day. It's so hard being away from you! I enjoyed reading your emails, like always! :)

I forgot what I was going to say.. so I'll just send some photos instead! I hope you get your mission call soon! Don't forget that there is a missionary in Brazil (me) who loves you very much!!! Ever!!! :)


I love you sooooo, so much!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Have a fantastic week! :) :)

Elder Canto

P.S. I'll send the photos separately instead!

Monday, January 27, 2014

First 2 weeks in Brazil!

Hey, everyone! Sorry for not writing last week!

      So, the first night, all the new missionaries (six of us), had dinner, took a picture with the mission president and his wife, watched an orientation video, and then were assigned a companion. Then, we walked to our apartment to sleep for the night.The next day was our preparation day, where we bought groceries, wrote emails, studied, unpacked, and then worked from 6pm to 9pm. The first full day that I was here, I was sick all day. I almost thew up a few times, and whenever I walked, the sick feeling came back. If I was sitting, it wasn't nearly as bad. But, we did a lot of walking that day, so I was just feeling miserable, and rested whenever I could. The next day, I felt A LOT better, thankfully. My prayers were answered! haha!
      These little kids playing soccer outside of th church were making jokes about me and singing to me and asking me to sing, because my last name is "Canto", which means "I sing" in Portuguese (and Spanish!), also "song" and "corner kick" (in soccer), I think. A LOT of people ask me if I sing because of my name, haha! A lot of people also think I'm from Brazil or South America when they are guessing where I'm from. It's pretty awesome. Then I tell them I'm from New York, and they think New York City. Anyways, so my companion's name is Elder Bezerra, and he's Brazilian, and from Sao Paulo (city), Sao Paulo (state), Brazil. He barely speaks Enlgish, so I have to speak Portuguese to communicate with him. Sometimes it's nice, but it can be frustrating, like when I can't communicate something to him clearly. But, we make it work, for the most part!
      The next day, it was time to work. After breakfast, we went out and talked with people on the street, and then went into the favellas, which is the area where the poorer people live. All of the houses they are pretty small, and generally are connected to each other (by the exterior walls). There are some streets, but mostly there are just paths in between the rows of houses, just wide enough for 2-3 people to walk side by side. It's like a maze, to be honest. But anyways, the people there are usually very friendly, and I enjoy talking with them! Well, to be honest, I basically didn't talk to anyone on the streets the first week, because it's hard to understand everything that's being said when people speak so rapidly, and their accents make it even harder for me to understand them! I'm getting better at understanding people though, and I actually talked to people on the street last week! When people speak slowly and clearly, I can usually understand them. Otherwise, I only get bits and pieces. I can pretty much understand the American missionaries when they speak Portuguese at least!
      So, back to that day. After lunch, we studied until 5pm. An elder (Elder Amorim) had been dropped off at our apartment earlier that day, because he's been having problems with his leg, and needed to be closer to the doctor. He's been staying at our apartment the past 10 days, but he's actually going home soon.
      So anyways, Elder Bezerra and him stayed at our apartment the next few days, and I went with Elder Loaiza and Elder M. James every day until Sunday. It was a lot of fun. Elder M. James is from Albequerque, New Mexico, and Elder Loaiza is from Ecuador.
      The past week, I've been with Elder Bezerra again. We're learning to work together better, and I'm trying to help with street contacts more now. Some people give up on talking to me almost immediately if I don't understand them the first or second time, but some people are more patient, and try to help me understand what they're saying. It makes my life a lot easier when people are like this, haha! I oiften feel alone and left out when everyone around me is talking in Portuguese and laughing and I don't know what's funny, or something. It's easier to understand when someone is speaking to me directly, or one on one.
      I've been in Brazil for 14 days now (today is day 14)! I actually wrote this out by hand last night to save some time, since we only have 60 minutes to email, once a week! If I don't respond to you for a while, it's not because I don't want to, it's because I ran out of time! Sorry about that, everyone!
      I guess the last thing I'll talk about this week is the food here. IT IS SO GOOD! I especially like this food called Tapioca (not the pudding). And yes, I do eat beans and rice at every lunch at member's homes. I love eating lunch at member's homes! Lunch is the main meal here, and dinner is usually a small amount of food. The salads here are always the same - lettuce and tomatoes. But yeah, Brazil has a lot of great foods (shoutout to Acai!) and juices.
      Oh, one last thing (get used to hearing about this, this won't be the last time) IT IS SO HOT HERE! Even at night! I can't imagine living in this heat for my whole life, haha! There is a nice breeze a lot of the time though, and it's not so bad in the morning, at night, in the shade, or when it rains (rarely, it's summer right now, and it rains a lot in fall and winter apparently. But it's pretty much just as hot then I think!) Oh, 4 more things. The beach is beautiful and about a 15 minute walk from where I live, but we can't go on the beach, just on the other side of the street from it. :( We walk just about everywhere, or take the bus if it's really far, and occasionally, get rides to member's houses for lunch. Also, everything is in metric here! Lastly, shopping for groceries is confusing. I've done it 3 or 4 times so far. It's hard to tell what's what! Plus, they use Reais instead of USD.
      Anyways, I love you all, and I hope you have a great week! Feel free to ask me questions about Brazil, my beliefs, missionary life, oranything! I would write more, but I don't have time, and this is long enough already, I think!

Send emails! :)


Elder Canto

Friday, January 10, 2014

So.. about salt lake city.. just kidding?!

Hey everyone!

So I actually just got my visa TODAY around noon, the day after I got my reassignment to the "Utah Salt Lake City" mission. I didn't even get to go and see the Salt Lake City temple! Maybe I'll get a chance to see it when I'm on the train on the way to the airport, but, I'm thinking.. probably not.

Anyways, I am extremely excited. I'm the third Elder in my District to get his visa for Brazil. Elder Taylor got his visa last week, and Elder Milstead got his visa yesterday. Everyone else is still going to their reassignments, and I just hope that they can all stay positive. After all, being on a mission isn't about the location, it's about the people! And they'll get to Brazil eventually. Hopefully pretty soon!

I was NOT expecting this at all.. like I said in my email yesterday, I was expecting to at least be in Salt Lake City until the end of the month.. but, I guess not! The Lord must need me in Brazil right now! :) I was worried about having to try and keep my Portuguese up without being able to use it very much, but now I don't have to worry! So the other two Elders in my District that are going to Brazil, are leaving at 4:30am on Monday morning, and I leave at 8:30am, with a few Elders that I don't know. Actually, all that I know right now, is that there are some other Elders who are going to be with me.

So, just for fun, here's my travel schedule:
1) Car ride to train station
2) Train ride to the airport
3) Salt Lake City, UT - Departure @2:20pm, Arrival @6:00pm (Dallas, TX)
4) Dallas, TX - Departure @8:25pm (1/13/14), Arrival @10:30am (Sao Paulo, SP, Brasil (1/14/14))
5) Sao Paulo, SP, Brasil - Departure @2:00pm, Arrival @3:06pm (Rio De Janeiro, RJ, Brasil)
6) Rio De Janeiro, RJ, Brasil - Departure @4:00pm, Arrival @5:55pm (Joao Pessoa, PB, Brasil)

So my longest flight is going to be the flight from Dallas, TX to Sao Paulo, SP, Brasil. It'll be 10 hours. The other two Elders in my District are going to be in the Sao Paulo airport before me and they're leaving after me, so maybe I'll be able to meet up with them there. I've been wanting to see Texas, so that'll be cool to finally see it!

Oh also, Elder Milstead, who got his visa yesterday, got an email today (which is irrelevant now), saying that he was being reassigned to the Orlando, Florida mission. So either way, he would've been pretty happy, haha!

I really was not expecting this.. I am so excited to go to Brazil, and I can't believe this is happening already. Please pray for me that I will make it to Brazil safely! :)

I love you all! Please write to me, I'd love to hear from you!

Type to you soon! haha!

Okay maybe that was a lame joke.. tchau!

Elder Canto

Still waiting for my visa!

Hey everyone! Sorry there was no newsletter this week, I was trying to write more personal emails! You'd be surprised at how quickly 60 minutes of emailing goes by!

I just wanted to write you all a quick email to let you know that I'm being reassigned to the "Utah Salt Lake City" mission temporarily, until I get my visa, and then I'll be off to Brazil! I heard that the missionaries who get assigned to this mission are supposed to get their visa pretty soon, so I'm not sure how long I'll be there, but I'm expecting to get my visa sometime this month, or early in February.

I leave the Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, January 14th, at 6:00am, and I'll be taking a train to Salt Lake City, since it's only a short distance away from Provo, UT, where I currently am.

I hope you're all doing great! You are all in my prayers! :)

I'm excited to serve in Salt Lake City while I wait for my visa! The other 5 elders in my district who haven't gotten their visas yet have been reassigned to:
1) Utah Salt Lake City (my companion)
2) Riverside, CA
3) Boise, ID
4) Rochester, NY! haha! That's where I'm from! His name is Elder Wilkie, for those of you who live in that area. So look out for him in a few days! He gets there on Monday, I think.
5) Not sure yet, because he's waiting until later today to read his reassignment letter :P [okay the fifth one is Spokane, WA :D]

Tchau! Tem um dia bom!

Elder Canto

Friday, January 3, 2014

Week 4 at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah!

Oi todo mundo! Feliz ano novo!

Next week is week 5, which is likely my last full week at the MTC! I'll have been here for 5 1/2 weeks total when I leave, on January 13th. I still haven't gotten my visa for Brazil yet, so I may end up in a U.S. mission for a while, but that's alright with me if that does happen. I can't believe I've already been here for a whole month! The first 2 weeks were a little slow, but the past 2 weeks have completely flown by! I think I have about 10 days left here now.
Alright, so, this week, I'm going to go through my days one at a time and tell a little bit about them. This is my first attempt at an actual "newsletter" or whatever you want to call it, so I'll probably change how I do this later on. I was going to try to write a blog post once a week for the blog that my fiancee (Alissa) is posting things on for me, but I haven't been able to do that yet, unfortunately! I'll try to do a better job of keeping up with that from now on.
Friday, December 27th:
I had this thing called TRC (Teaching Resource Center, or something like that), today, for the second or third time ever, where members of my church volunteer to come in and be taught by the missionaries (in Portuguese, in my case). We didn't have a lesson prepared (I guess we forgot about it), but we just ended up talking to the two people we met with about their lives and their family. They were actually married to each other, but we met with them separately. **Side note: Alissa got her wisdom teeth out today, and she sent me some pictures of her face, which was all swelled up, and she had this ice pack wrapped around her head. It was funny, but I couldn't help but feel bad for her, haha! She's doing better now though I think. :)
Saturday, December 28th:
So we have teachers come in and teach us for about 3 hours a day here (once or twice a day), and at the beginning of class, they pretend to be someone that they taught on their mission, and each set of missionaries goes in a room and teaches them for about 15-20 minutes. We taught our teacher (Irma Petitta) who was pretending to be an investigator (someone who's learning about our church) named Edinea. We taught her about the 10 commandments and had her commit to keeping them in her life, which she didn't seem to have a problem with. She's already agreed to be baptized, and that's supposed to happen on January 11th (again, this is all pretend, but we're trying to make it seem real, because it's good practice). Our next investigator (Irmao Walker) was named Sergio, and he's a little bit tougher to teach. He doesn't seem too interested in what we have to say.. but we taught him about prayer and about the Holy Ghost, and he committed to praying once a day. Later on, Irmao Walker told my companion (Elder Gartside) and I, that we needed to be more enthusiastic in our lessons.. haha! Otherwise, he said it feels like we're only there because we have to be there.
Later that night, two of my roommates and I, stayed up late talking. It was a lot of fun, but I was really tired the next day! Oh also, another side note, at lunch- someone was doing the bird call whistle from the movie "The Hunger Games" and held up the three fingers sign, and just about everyone did the whistle back and held up the sign.. it was pretty funny. (It's gotten a little annoying at this point though.. haha! oh well)
Sunday, December 29th:
I absolutely love Sundays at the MTC! We had quite a few lessons today about how to recognize the Spirit. It's usually impressions that come into your mind, a feeling in your heart, a warm feeling (for some people), or just a good feeling. God communicates with us through the Spirit. Anything that comes into your mind that is persuades you to do good, is from God. Anything that comes into your mind that persuades you to do evil, or is just bad by nature, comes from Satan. I also learned about inviting the Spirit into lessons with investigators, through sincere, heartfelt testimony.
We had a devotional (a guest speaker and his wife come in and speak to us for about 50 minutes) later that night, and then we watched a teaching demonstration video with Jeffrey R. Holland from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in it, which was a little over an hour. It was great. I love hearing him speak. The video was called "The Gift of Teaching". He was saying that we should do the following things when teaching:
1) "Ask, seek, & knock (spiritually)."
2) "Teach from the scriptures."
3) "Teach by & with the Spirit."
4) "Help the learner assume responsibility for learning."
5) "Testify." (share how you came to know the truth of whatever principles you are teaching the class (or the person) about)

I liked when he said "You may not be able to teach them, but you can love them." and also, "If you love them today, maybe you can teach them tomorrow." I need to develop a greater love for the people that I teach! :)
Monday, December 30th:
We had two substitute teachers today. Almost all of our teachers are students, so they're going on breaks to see their family and things like that right now, and as a result, we've probably had.. about 7 or 8 substitute teachers in the past month.. haha! One of my main teachers (we have two, Irma Petitta, and Irmao Khang (Irma means "Sister" and Irmao means "Brother)), Irma Petitta, is actually getting married tomorrow! So that's why she's gone right now. She's awesome, and I am so happy for her.

So our first substitute teacher was really awesome, and his name is Irmao Tiago (Brother James). He taught us some Portuguese, and then I asked if he could name objects in the classroom for us, so that we would know how to say their names in Portuguese. After that, we took a short break, and came back, and then he said "Let's go outside." or something, and we went outside, and he just went around and named objects/things outside and we wrote them down. It was a lot of fun, but my hands were hurting after being outside in the cold for so long, and my pen almost stopped working! haha! After that, we went over the Preterite and Imperfect tenses (past tenses) for Portuguese.
Our second substitute, Irmao Laws, was very serious about missionary work, and he essentially gave us a lecture about how we need to use our MTC time wisely, and how it's up to us to figure out how to use our time, for the most part. He made an analogy with Lehi's family traveling in the wilderness for many years, and then when they finally arrive at the land that they called "Bountiful", which had a nice beach, and everything that they needed, the Lord told Nephi "Get thee up into the mountain". So instead of laying in a hammock and resting after his long journey, Nephi was obedient, and he climbed up into the mountain. When he got to the top of the mountain, he prayed to the Lord and asked what he needed him to do. He told him that he needed to build a ship to cross the ocean, to go to the Promised Land (the Americas). Instead of saying "I don't know how to do that" or asking for tools, he inquired of the Lord to know where he could find ore to make tools. Anyways, the analogy here, was that our time at the MTC could be fun and easy, like the valley Bountiful, or, we could climb to the top of the mountain (aka, work hard and study, and focus). The MTC is can be as easy or as challenging as we make it. I'm trying to challenge myself more now, after hearing that analogy. (for those of you who are unfamiliar with this story, it's from the beginning of The Book of Mormon :])
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013:
I got two Brazilian cookbooks from Alissa this week, and they are full of colorful pictures and recipes for tasty Brazilian food. Sweet! Some of the recipes look a little complicated, but that might just be me being intimidated by the professional-looking pictures of food that are in them, haha! So it was New Year's Eve that day, so obviously, what did I do? I stayed up till midnight! There were even fireworks outside (off-campus), which we watched for a little bit (they were partially blocked by some buildings, though).
Earlier that day, we had two substitute teachers at once (they accidentally signed up for the same day). Irmao Laws again, and then a new one, Irma Compton. We did something interesting today. We had our 4 companionships split up into groups of 2 companionships, and 1 companionship taught the other companionship, who was pretending to be investigators. It's actually really fun, and I think I like it better than teaching my teachers, in some ways. Since it was just us missionaries, we snuck in some English words when we didn't know the Portuguese words, haha! So my companion and I taught two other missionaries, and then two missionaries taught my companion and I. I have to admit, it's not the easiest thing, pretending to be someone else, and pretending to not know everything that I know. It went alright though, and we've met with the two missionaries who are teaching us twice now. It's not too bad, and can be a lot of fun at times, when we're joking around with each other. :)
That night, we had a devotional, where Brother Stanley G. Ellis (from the Quorum of the Seventy), and his wife, spoke to us. Afterwards, we had an awesome testimony meeting with our Branch President and his wife. The Spirit is always so strong in our classroom when we have testimony meetings.. I love it!
2013 was a great year. Spending so much time with Alissa is what made it great, in my opinion. I can't wait to marry her in 2016! :) So far away.. haha. I also got to spend a lot of time with my family, which I really enjoyed, and I got to know a bunch of the associates at the Webster Walmart, and made some good friends there. I absolutely loved December, at the MTC, and that was a great way to end the year. I miss my fiancee, and my family, and my friends, but I know that I'm where the Lord needs me to be right now, and that's exactly where I want to be. I'm willing to give up these two years of my life to serve the Lord, because He has done so much for me! Everything, actually! Also, knowing that I'll see my friends and family again near the end of next year makes it easier to be here. And knowing that I'll be getting married to Alissa a few months after I get back makes it easier too! haha! I can't wait! :)

Alissa actually has decided to serve a mission since I got here, and I am SO excited for her. It's great being on a mission. I love it! I am learning so much about myself, about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I'm learning the awesome language of Portuguese. Eu amo Portugues!
I want to be a better person this year, 2014. I want to be the best that I can be, for my family, for my fiancee, for my mission companions, but most of all, for my investigators. People are counting on me. I can't let them down. One full year of missionary work, here I come!
Wednesday, January 1st, 2014:
Happy New Year! It's nice to be in an even year again. Today, there were about 300-400 new missionaries arriving at the MTC, and my district was asked to be hosts for the new missionaries. Basically, what that is, is we help new missionaries get their nametags, their books, find their residence room, and then we bring them to their classroom. It was cool to get to know some new missionaries and help them find their way around, and answer their questions about life at the MTC.
Today marked the 13th month that I have been engaged to Alissa! I am so happy that I get to marry her, she's absolutely amazing, and she has been such a great example to me. She has written emails to me almost every day since I got here, and it makes me so happy, and makes my week a little more exciting. :) She has been very supportive of me since I've been here. I love her so much!

I'm grateful for all of you who have written to me so far, and who will write to me in the future! I've said it once, and I'll say it again.. I love receiving letters and emails! So feel free to write to me whenever you want!
Okay, here's a funny story:
About two weeks ago, we got two new districts in our zone. The day that they got here, Elder Taylor (a missionary in my district (which has 8 missionaries in it in total)), said to all of them, "So, this may sound a little weird, but, as a zone, we like to pray on top of our wardrobes at night, because it helps us feel closer to God." None of us thought that they would believe him, and he didn't even think that they would believe him.. but.. haha XD (I'm laughing as I'm typing this) they confessed today that ALL of them have been doing that EVERY. NIGHT. since they got to the MTC! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! XD my district just about died when we heard that. hahaha!!!!! They haven't done that since then (we never did it in the first place!). It was so funny though.

Oh also, and we had this one Elder here (who went home), but, he was in our district, anyways, he was pretending that he was from Scotland, and he did a Scottish accent around the two new districts every day until he left, and then before he left, we had him record a video on someone's camera, saying that he wasn't Scottish, he wasn't from Scotland, and he didn't have a Scottish accent. (All in an American accent) And we showed the video to the other two districts. Nobody knew that he was faking it! haha!
Thursday, January 2nd:
I got up a little late today.. I need to work on getting up right at 6:30am when my alarm goes off. It was probably 6:54am when I got up, but I still made it to breakfast at 7:15am on time, so it wasn't a huge deal. So our investigators (two other missionaries), are "Kevin" and "Mark". "Kevin" is a friend of one of the missionaries, and "Mark", is one of the missionaries, if he had fallen away from the Mormon Church. It's interesting teaching them. "Mark" is pretty open to our lessons, but he's worried about not being able to be forgiven for the things that he's done in life, which is why he stopped going to church. "Kevin", has never really attended a church, and he isn't very open to our lessons.. but we're working on that. We invited them to come to church next Sunday, and they're going to try to free up some time to go with us. (again, this is all pretend, but we're trying to make it seem real) We encouraged "Mark" to pray and ask God for forgiveness for his mistakes, and he said that he would try.

Later that night, during language study, I learned the verb conjugations for regular AR/ER/IR verbs in the Imperfect and Preterite past tenses, and I learned a few new verbs. It wasn't too difficult, and it should be useful when I'm teaching lessons or having conversations in Portuguese. Not everything can be said in the Present Tense! haha!
Friday, January 3rd (today):
I just wanted to say, that I am so grateful for how much my faith has increased, and my testimony has grown, since I got here. I am so grateful for the other missionaries in my district, and my zone, and for all of the things that I have learned from them. My district feels like my family right now, and they might as well be! We're all pretty close at this point, after being here for 4 weeks. I love being a missionary, and being at the MTC. I am really happy here, and I haven't been missing everyone too much (it comes and goes, but I've been doing alright away from everyone for now).

I know that the Lord has called me on a mission for a reason, and that this is where I am supposed to be, and that I'm here when I am supposed to be here. I have a strong desire to share what I know about the gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone, and that's why I'm here. I want other people to know what I know, and to be able to find true happiness and joy in their lives. I want them to be able to return to live in heaven after this life, with their families, forever. I know that this is only possible through following the example of Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. I know that God wants us to pray to Him every day, in sincere, heartfelt prayer. He wants us to be happy, and He wants to bless our lives. All we have to do, is ask Him. I'm not afraid to say all of this, to anyone. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but, I know with a surety that having faith in and following the gospel, and the example, of Jesus Christ is the only way for us to return to live with Him and with God, and with our families. Those who do not get the chance to accept the gospel in this life will be given a chance after they pass away. They will be taught, in the Spirit world, after they die, and they will be able to choose whether or not they want to follow Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

You can pray to know the truth of these things for yourself, and I would encourage anyone to do so. :) I am by no means perfect, and I still have a lot to learn, so you don't have to take my word for it. Read The Book of Mormon if you want to know more! :) I know that The Book of Mormon is a true account of the Lord's dealings with the people in the Americas, and that anyone who reads it can pray to know the truth of it. I know that if anyone does this, sincerely, with real intent, and a real desire to know, that they can (and will) receive a knowledge of the truthfulness of it, from God, through the Holy Ghost. Maybe not right away, but in time, if they are diligent, He will answer their prayers.
If anyone has any questions about what I said in this email, or about how I'm doing, or anything, feel free to send me an email! Or even if you just want to say hi, or tell me about your life, or something that's happening in the world right now (I'm completely cut off from the news, the media, radio, TV, etc. haha!), feel free to do so!
Thank you to everyone who wrote emails to me this week. It made me very happy, and it's nice to know that so many people care about me.

I love you all, and I hope that you have a great week!
Until next week,

Elder Canto

I forgot to mention something!

During our lesson with the two other missionaries on Wednesday, I asked (in Portuguese), if one of them had a girlfriend, and he said yes, so I asked (in Portuguese), "how old is she?" And he said "dois anos" (two years old), and me, his companion, and the teacher burst out laughing. Him and my companion both thought that I had asked how long he'd been with his girlfriend, and they were confused why we were laughing at first. It was so funny though, and once they figured out what happened, they were laughing too, haha!
Anyways, I just wanted to share that experience with all of you.

Elder Canto