Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gary Cannon

I returned from the mission in September 1996 to continue studies at the University of California, Davis. In 1999, I moved to Seattle for graduate school at the University of Washington. No surprise: my professional life centers in music. I conduct three choirs and an opera company, sing in two professional choirs, and work as a freelancer, both guest-conducting and singing solos with local orchestras. Somehow I find time occasionally to make slow progress on my doctoral dissertation. More details are available at www.garydcannon.net, or at www.facebook.com/cannonesque.

On the personal side of things, I current live in Seattle with my wife and our two cats. Marnie and I were married three years ago, having already been together for seven years. She works in marketing for Infospace, an Internet company. We are currently excited to plan a trip back to Italy this summer.

Though I left the church several years ago, I nevertheless have so many fond memories of the mission... in Biella: laughing and learning the ropes... in Torino: exploring and teaching in the sketchier neighborhoods... playing Jeopardy with the English class... in Rho: teaching and baptizing... volunteering with the mentally handicapped... in Genova: trying to play the organ... keeping company a chain-smoking, ill-tempered man in need of a friend... Thanksgiving with the district... at the office: writing the Financial Secretary's manual... Presidente's constant example of kindness... playing desk-soccer and knocking down the board of keys... throughout the mission: learning Italian, and the fine art of simultaneous translation... learning to like (some) vegetables, thanks to Sorella's encouragement... learning to cook, even if it was consistently pasta... hours of quiet study and peaceful enlightenment... attending the ballet at La Scala... and, especially, so many companions, members, and investigators with such love in their hearts. Thanks to all for two splendid years!

Paige Sommer

I was able to attend the reunion this past summer and what a joy it was to see so many of the sisters I served with and to get a hug from the Cleggs.

Funny coincidence, my husband, Eric Blaser, lived in the same cul-de-sac as the Cleggs when he was growing up and Presidente was his scout master and their son Josh was his best friend.

We've been living in the Seattle area for almost 9 years, married for almost 11. We have 4 children: Ridge, age 9; Cannon, age 6; Laine, age 4; and Sommer, age 2. For my 30th birthday Eric surprised me with a trip to Italy. Our favorite part of our trip was staying with Massimo and Eva Meduri in their lovely home in Sicily. Massimo and I served in the same Milano area and I have fond memories of testing my Italian skills while conversing with him when we were supposed to be doing mostra. Eric became a convert to adoring Italy as much as I do and we are looking forward to going back again.

Other memories? Eating Anziano Rippa's bread pudding after an optimistic district meeting run by Anziano Killian in Alessandria; mostra with Sorella Russell in Alessandria -- once we were in front of a pastry shop and at the end of the day a lady came out of the shop and handed me a package of treats. I told her I had something for her too and I know she was expecting me to pull a Book of Mormon from my backpack but I actually had brownies wrapped up for the famiglia Costalioglia(?) that I handed her and we took the professionally made treats to that wonderful family instead. Our service in Torino, Sorella Baily and I got to help the nuns, amazing examples of Christ-like service, who worked with disabled women. Riding bikes in the rain through Monza with Sorella Davis; getting haircuts (that were way too short) from that sweet sister who just wanted to serve the missionaries. Taking long lunches in Alessandria (on accident) with Sorella Landro -- she made the best soup! And appreciating the cute southern Italian guy who came to play soccer, what was his name? Feeling helpless as Sorella Shaw navigated me through Milano for the first time. She was so capable with that map! District meeting with Anziano Clonts -- enough said. Parco with Sorella Gilette, she helped me speak up, and touring the Duomo together (with Anziani Buck and Meduri so I guess it was a double date). PDays in Milano at the park with lots of missionaries. Meeting Dario and Al with Sorella Stephanie Smith; actually going into one of the shops on Via Montenapoleone with her -- Ferragamo.

It's all about the people I served with. I feel like Heavenly Father gave me a gift by sending me to Italy where I got to meet such wonderful people who have enriched my life in so many ways. Vi voglio un sacco di bene!

Paige Blaser

Monday, December 28, 2009

Shalece Norby

We have 2 years left at Penn State, Bryan is finishing up his PhD in marketing.

Tad Thornton

I live in Smithfield, UT in Cache Valley. We have four kids
Aurianna (6), Livia (3), Trey (2), and one on the way
due in February. I am a Regional Vice President for a
safety shoe company called Lehigh, a division of Rocky

Allison Reynolds

I served from March 1995 - Oct 1996. Some of my favorite mission memories include visiting/ singing with Sorella Patronus(?) -what was her last name again - we all got our picture with her) in Torino, the weekly radio segment in Biella ("Speak Easy" with Young Missionaries on the Air), finding people by way of a "sondaggio" with Sorella Cox in the huge parco in Monza, waking up to Bon Jovi when we had to live with the Nicotra family for a few weeks before our apt. was ready, jogging with Sorelle Ryan & Olsen in Milano 1, weekly visits to the dentist to repair Sorella Romano's teeth that she broke while bicycling under my lead (perdonami Sorella), singing with Sorella Landro and the mega musical production in Biella, Corso d'Inglese pizza party (what a disaster! - why did 50 people show up out of nowhere?), service at the nursing home, long chats with all of my companions, Sorella Palmisano's tuna and hot dog pizzas, and the baptism of Tiziana Conto in Milano with Sorella Ryan (a true miracle).

Miracles have continued to touch my life because of the mission. Two years ago, I met a young guy in Omaha, NE from Biella visiting extended family for a few months (of all places). We were both part of the "Italian Language Meetup Group." Naturally, we became instant friends because of our Biella/ Italian connection. After a few months of friendship, a visit to AZ, CA, church, dinner at my in-laws, and the WQ Mormon Trail Center, he returned to Biella. I visited him later that year and invited him to church with me. I gave him a Book of Mormon. He came and never stopped coming. He hit it off with the missionaries and got baptized the summer of 2007. To date, this stands out as the most profound, natural, and enjoyable missionary experience of my life. I'm grateful that the Lord would allow me to take a small part in His work.

I currently live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband of 4.5 years, Peter Nelson, who is pursuing an oral surgery residency. We were in Omaha, NE for the past few years for his dental school, and we will probably return to my native AZ after residency. We both love being members of the church and for the truths of the gospel that bring light and joy to our lives. Ciao tutti!
Allison Reynolds Nelson

Blake Barlow

Hello President and Sister Clegg,

Recently I've had occassion to go to the BYU creamery and pass the MTC on my way and every time I think if only I could stop and go in and say hello. I love both of you so much. I am currently living in Cedar Hills, UT working for Omniture as an Account Executive. my wife and I also own and operate our own ballet studio called Barlow Arts Conservatory: www.barlowarts.com We've been married 7 years and have two boys Dash (4) and Hudson (2). One of my favorite memories from my mission was having 1997 Thanksgiving in Genova with all of the missionaries and tons of investigators. Also there was the time Anziano Buckner and I arrived in San Remo at night, no one was at the apartment and we didn't know how to get anywhere but we set out in search of Pizza for dinner. After about 20 minutes of wandering we finally found a pizzeria and it just happened to be the one underneath the church and the second counsellor in the Branck Presidency just happened to be ordering pizza there at the same time. All my love to the anziani and sisters I served with everywhere from the MTC to the last day.

I attached a picture of my family for you to view and post.


Anziano Blake Barlow

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Phil Burnah

It's our Annual
Burnah Family Email

Here is what 2009 did to our family:
*brought 7 years of marriage
*put us through the 12th move in our 7 years together
*gave us our first new home! and hopefully the last move for a looong time!
*third times the charm and we had an absolutely charming baby girl, Haley, in May!
(she was one of 5 grand babies born on one side of the family this year!)
*several little vacations and one big one to beautiful Yosemite National Park
*two more state high points climbed for Phil
*Phil called to serve in the Young Men's organization at church
*Chelsy called to serve on the Activities Committee at church
*two little girls potty trained (pretty much!?)
*two better attitudes about potty training (*sigh*)
*finished reading 1/5 of the Book of Mormon with the little ones (at this rate, we might finish by 2020!)
*watched our oldest, Lydia, get on a bus for the first time to go to preschool (wow)
*spent good time with family on every occasion we could
*Disney Princesses on Ice with Belle (Lydia) and Snow White (Maddie)
*tickled, read lots of Dr. Suess, broke up arguments, wiped noses (and behinds), gave that one last drink of water for the billionth time, cleaned up another accident, buckled another seat belt, hauled a tantruming kid out the door..again, pulled out the childhood My Little Ponies to squeals of joy, cut down on diaper consumption by 2/3rds, watched a baby roll over for the first time, saw Jungle Book for the 100th time, gave that first bite of strained peas, saw our children comfort one another, taught a child to recognize her name in print, gave in to the Disney Princess obsession, received a big hug for the hundred-bazillionth time, heard those magic words "I love you sooo much!"...laughed cried yelled giggled worried joyed...loved it all...and...
*once again re-committed to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ daily as a family....

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Love, Phil, Chelsy, Lydia, Madeline, & Haley Burnah

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chad Buckner

Well Where do I start? I am married to my wonderful wife, Amy, I have two boys ages 1 Wade and 3 Ethan. We own a small house in Riverdale Ut. and have lived here for about 3 years. Life has been good to us. This past year has been one of Faith love and hope. February 3rd of '09 I was diagnosed with Cancer. I had a leiomyosarcoma tumor that took over my 2nd thoracic vertebral body. The tumor caused great back pain which I thought to be just a bad back after almost 10 years as a Stone mason. In the end of January I was lifting some stone at work and the vertebrae collapsed and pinched my spinal cord. I started loosing function of my legs and numbness was overtaking the lower half of my body. From about mid-chest down. After a few MRI and CT scans I went in on the 3rd of Feb and was told the diagnosis. I was admitted to the hospital right from the doctors office and didn't go home for almost half a month. I went through a 10.5 hr surgery that involved removing 95% of the tumor, the whole infected vertebrae and 2 discs, a spinal fusion, and introduction of lots of titanium into my upper back. We then went through neurological-rehab a few months of a back brace, and then started treatment on the remaining 5% of the tumor that was too risky and difficult to remove. This involved 6 rounds of inpatient chemotherapy at the Hunstman Cancer Hospital 4 days each followed by a 10 day "rest" at home then another cycle. Chemotherapy was extremely exhausting, frustrating, and at times painful (side effects). For about 5 months I had a Central access line sticking out of my chest. It was a long term I.V. type line that was plumbed into the main vein that returns to the heart allowing the chemo to be infused directly into my heart and mixed thoroughly before being sent out to the rest of the body. We made it though all of this due to the love of the Lord. I know for a fact that the Lord stands by you and is there to pull you through the toughest times in our lives. There were times that I felt His presence comforting me and taking away my fears. He gave me strength beyond what I can comprehend. There were times where the worst of it didn't seem bad at all. Others asked how we could handle it all, the only answer I have for them is the Lord made it possible.
The quote comes to mind, "If the Lord brings you to it, He will bring you through it, He will either lighten the load, or he will strengthen your back". In my case he did both, Literally (titanium!)

Check out our blog, and look back through the earlier months for pics and more info.
Thanks for keeping in touch,



Faith is connected to hope and hope means believing in spite
of the evidence and then watching the evidence change!