Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sono grato che sia mercoledì di nuovo!‏

Carissima Famiglia,

You have no idea how amazing it was to talk to you all! I was so excited about our talk and you all look and sound great! Some of the stuff in this email will be a little bit of a repeat since we talked about most of it already, but we'll see how it goes. Nevertheless it was a great week, but not very full of missionary work because we were supposed to take a few days off because all of the festivals and Italian cultural differences. 

Despite all that we got another baptismal date! Yesterday we were walking back from doing some finding work to go home for lunch and I felt like we should stop by and see the Mazzone's for a second to see how their Christmas was and to see if we were going to have Family Home Evening that night. They invited us in and Ignazio was very happy to see us. He sat us down and his wife had a huge smile on her face. She said that he has been praying and fasting, and has found a date! He then told us that his answer was the 21st of January. We were all very happy and he says he feels good about this date. I am excited, especially since we will both be here and we will see the ending goal as our part as missionaries, and the beginning to his new covenant making lifestyle with the Lord. We have another lesson with him tonight where we will focus on the Book of Mormon where there will no doubt be a great Spirit to be felt there. Ignazio sends holiday wishes to you all!

Other than that not very much progress with investigators because of the continued business of the holiday season. Speaking of the holiday season, I love how much happier people get generally around this time of the year. I told you all already, but I wanted to recount the fun little evening we had at the bar. Now don't get me wrong, Italian bars are very different from our U.S. bars. Everyone goes to bars in Italy and they sell everything kind of like a little cafe or something like that. Anyways, on Christmas Eve our emotions were high after talking to the families and we decided to go get a soda at a bar near our home. We went inside and got our drinks, but thought it was a bad idea since there were a few drunk people there being a little loud and disruptive.  We quickly finished our drinks and went up to pay. When we spoke to the bartender he told us that a man had already payed for our drinks. He pointed the man out to us, and we went to go thank him. He was an extremely nice man who seemed to have a few mental difficulties, and the people who were with him and the regular attenders of this bar noted on how great of a man he was. He told us he talked to missionaries in the past and really liked them so he decided to show a kind gesture for us. At that moment I really felt the love of the Christmas Spirit. And that wasn't the end of it. A woman from England came up to us and began talking to us randomly and wanted to talk to us about who we where, so she invited us to come back to this bar another day and get a drink with her, her husband, and daughter. After that the bartender started giving us attention about being Americans because I guess he really loves America, and then this little story in the bar ended with us seeing one of our students from English course who had just walked in and was very happy to see us. We got a "bro-bach" as I call it and it was the kissy cheek to cheek thing with a man. We left the bar with nearly everyone in there saying goodbye and Merry Christmas. It was a great evening and that's when the spirit and love of Christmas really kicked in for me. 

We had a great time on Christmas! We had church for an hour, and then squeezed into the Branca's cars to head to Calangianus and spend the day there. We had an awesome lunch that consisted of baked pasta, lamb, and pork. Just a little something to gross you all out, but I ate some pig brain! After lunch we opened some gifts from Alessio and he made us each two sweaters, a scarf, and got us each a tie! His family also got us each a tie, and it was a lot of fun spending the holiday with them. And of course I got to Skype you all which was the highlight of my first Christmas in Italy!

Okay, we had a bit of an interesting experience last night. Anziano Vitali Skyped his family, and when he was done we decided to go out to eat. There is a restaurant here in town that we like to go to for a little break from all the pasta, and it's a 50's style American diner. It's actually really good! Anyways, one of the main reasons we like to go there now is because a few days ago we found out that they had a ping pong table. Anziano Vitali is also very passionate about ping pong, and the playful "trash-talking" between us about who would win began. When we were finished with our hamburgers we grabbed the paddles and began playing. Before we started playing there was a family who wasn't very good at all just hitting the ball back and forth in spasmodic manners, so, when we played with more skill, it was quite the attention grabber for the other clients in the restaurant. Anziano Vitali and I are pretty evenly matched, so we had some very fast and intense rallies going that created a great show for the people watching. Later, two girls came to watch us at the booth closest to the ping pong table. I just want to add that a non-missionary, nineteen year old young man would think that these were two very pretty girls. Anyways, the ball flew towards them after a bad shot, and it went under their table. I went to go get it, apologizing to them, but as I reached under the table one of the girls snatched it very quickly and gave me a smile. Red flags flew off in my head immediately! She looked me straight in the eyes and said, flirtatiously, that the ball was hers now. Her and her friend got up, she asked for my paddle, and her friend went and took Anziano Vitali's. They were both giggling and started playing (terribly) and so we began to get ready to leave. They told us to wait, but we paid and ran out of there like Joseph of Egypt. I know this isn't obviously a spiritual uplifting story to put into a missionary's email home, but I hope it gives somebody a laugh! 

I want you all to know how much I love this mission. Absolutely not because of the story above, but because of the opportunity I have to be a part of the most important work that is on this earth today. I haven't seen a crazy amount of success as far as baptisms go so far in the six months of my mission, but I've seen so many miracles! The baptisms will pick up for sure though, I know it. I am so excited for this new year. I've been away from you guys for over six months but when I talked to you all it didn't seem very long at all. I'm grateful for the love and the strength of our relationship that is still powerful even though we are miles apart. I love you Dad! I love you Mom! I love you Morgan! I Love you Brooke! I love you Heather! I love you Greg! Vi voglio tanto bene, come sempre, e sono molto contento che io sia una parte di questa famiglia! 

Happy New Year!!! Don't forget to really set goals for a new year. I've learned the importance of setting goals so far in my mission, and we can accomplish extraordinary things if we not only set "to do" goals, but more importantly "to be" goals. I bear personal testimony of that! Anyways, love you all tons!

A presto!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

è quasi Natale!‏

Carissimo famiglia,

Ciao! Only a few days until I get to speak to you all! I can't wait!!! Anyways, this has been a fantastic week! Besides all the cold. It's been getting very cold and rainy here! When we go to Calangianus for Christmas there might even be snow since the city is in the mountains!

Well let me start of with Ignazio. Wednesday night we had another lesson with him, and we decided to watch Finding Faith in Christ. After we went over a few verses we watched the film and bore testimony of the Savior's role in our lives. He really felt the Spirit and all three of us were crying. After the lesson his wife came in and asked, "What did I miss!" It was really funny. Since we really want to fix a new date for a baptism, we talked about fasting from Saturday lunch to Sunday lunch. He really agreed with that so me and my companion, Ignazio, and his wife all fasted to know. Tonight we have an appointment set where we will talk about the fast and when he thinks he'll be ready for baptism. I'm really excited!!!

We finally had an appointment with the Tache's and they are doing great. Work is going good, and they are looking forward to Christmas. I didn't realize how much they love the Book of Mormon! They read everyday, and they even have study journals that they write in with things they learn! It was awesome! They couldn't come to church this week because he had work and she had to take care of her sick grandchildren, but they look forward to being in church on Christmas!

Other than that it's been near impossible to see other people because everyone is so busy with the holidays and leaving for vacations. We have had a bit of success though as far as finding, but the people we find tell us to come back after the holidays, so things are going a little slow. We did have a cool experience as far as being led by the Spirit though.

We were out doing house contacting and weren't having much luck at all. We finished the whole area and decided to find somewhere else to go. As we were walking down a street we then realized that there was a palazzo that we didn't knock on yet, so we entered the apartment building and began. We decided that this would be the last building we'd do because we had a long way to walk if we couldn't catch a bus. We knocked on a door and a young woman answered. We told her that we had a message of Christ that we were sharing at this Christmas season and she let us in (which rarely happens). Well we forgot to do something that is really important to do, ask if there was a man home before we came in. It's a really important rule! When we realized she was the only one home her dad came home, so we were good! We began teaching her the first lesson. Her name is Valentina and she is 21. Apparently her grandpa talked with missionaries in the past, and she was interested. Halfway through the lesson her mom came home and then both the dad and the mom came in for the lesson. They were all very interested. After we closed, we just sat and talked for awhile! They are so cool! The dad, Marco, collects remote controlled planes and showed us everything they had. They are such an awesome family, and they want us to come back again after the holidays. We left them with the Book of Mormon and they were excited to read it. They are definitely "legit" and we have a lot of hope for them!

That's about it for investigator progress!

As far as details go, things have been great this week. We finished English course for the next few weeks during the holidays, so I'm a little happy about that. It's fun, but it gets in the way of times we could have teaching appointments. The last time I taught the conversational part, and they like to get into political discussions about America with me. Eventually it led to the church's stance on political issues, because they stressed that the Catholic church has a huge role in Italy's government apparently. That led to a huge gospel discussion, and one guy wanted a Book of Mormon! It was kind of nice talking about the gospel in English for a little break! 

Friday night we had our Christmas party. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but nothing like a Sunset Hills Ward Christmas party. We watched Joy to the World, ate some pizza and other dishes, and then there was a little thing presented by the primary and ended with Santa Clause (Babbo Natale in Italian) giving the kids each presents. It was fun!

On Sunday an ex-missionary who served his mission in Olbia came with his mother and father! It was neat talking to him because he was a greenie in Olbia too and stayed here for seven months. His mother served her mission in Italy and his father is Italian so I didn't have to do any translating for sacrament meeting, thank goodness! They were a really cool family though, and it's always fun to see Americans in Italy. We were printing out pictures and met this technician from Oregon who married an Italian and has been here for 28 years! I'm sure if I serve in Rome I will see people like that a lot. 

After church on Sunday we kind of got kidnapped! We have been working with this less-active family for awhile now, and finally they came to church! They invited us over for lunch, so we were happy about that. They gave us a ride to their house, which is about an hour away, and we supposed that they would give us a ride home too. Well, after we had finished lunch and a little lesson, they asked us if we knew the bus times. Of course we did not for this little random city, so she told us to go wait at the bus stop until something came. It was lovely. It was cold, it was raining, and we didn't even know if there would be a bus on Sunday! After about an hour it came and we got home. At times like that I miss our car! 

It was great, we were walking back home for lunch, and decided to check out a few street vendors. We were walking and there was this hippy guy playing some kind of tropical style drums. He said, "Vive Mormoni!" Which is kind of like, "Long live the Mormons!" We laughed and went go talk to him of course. He is from Argentina, and met with the missionaries there. He talked about how much he loved the Latter-day Saint people, but he never joined the church because he has his own philosophy of living. He was a way cool guy, and he hooked us up with these cool little hippster style heart keychains to give to somebody we love. It was a way funny little experience!

To finish off we had F.H.E. with the Mazzone's last night. Sorella Mazzone taught the lesson, and as part of the lesson she had us share some of our favorite scriptures. When it landed on Ignazio to share his favorite scripture, I was really interested to see what he was going to pic since he is so new to the church. This is what he picked, 2 Nephi 31: 

 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the agate, by which they should enter, he having set the bexample before them.
 10 And he said unto the children of men: aFollow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we bfollow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
 11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father agive the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, bfollow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

It was powerful as he explained that this is what he is doing now in his life. He also expressed his love for the Savior. How amazing it is to see the change in him! This is why I'm serving a mission.

Well that's about it! It's almost Christmas time! Tomorrow I go to pick up my "permesso" to live in the country, so I won't be an illegal immigrant anymore! Just kidding. Anyways I love you all! I can't wait to say it on the telephone! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg! Send my love to everyone this holiday season! Don't forget why we celebrate Christmas, and think about the importance of Jesus Christ in our life. Have a great and safe week, I'll talk to you very, very soon! Vi voglio tanto bene!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Over 2,500 views!

The blog now has over 2,500 views!  Thank you to everyone for your interest in and support of Clay's missionary service.  We get to talk to him in a few days!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Transfer in Olbia!‏

Buon Giorno!

As you all already know we are going to be here for Christmas! Everyone, members and other elders predicted that one of us was going to get booted off the island for sure, but, we are doing another together and we are very excited. I think I'll move around a lot the rest of my mission since I will have been in Olbia for so long. It's been another great week! I can't believe how fast this transfer went by, mamma mia! 

Just a little update with investigators. Unfortunately, Ignazio won't be baptized this weekend. It is for the better though so maybe I shouldn't say unfortunately. We talked to him and he said tearfully that he didn't feel ready. We stressed for him not to worry but that this date was a goal. He said that he knows that after the holidays he will be ready. We haven't fixed another date yet, but we have a lesson tonight so we will talk to him about it. Last night we had family home evening at his house and it was awesome because for the lesson everyone shared their conversion stories; His wife, his mother-in-law, Carlos Villegas, and Claudio Branca. People were crying, it was beautiful, and and the spirit was definitely there. I think it was really good for Ignazio to hear all that and get excited for his baptism. He's loving the Gospel and he is still progressing well. 

The Tache's are doing pretty good. We haven't seen Ionel in forever because he picked up a second job but Iona came to church so that was nice. She still reads the Book or Mormon everyday and loves to tell us about the things she reads. We've been trying to see Lino and Giovanna in Calangianus but they are pretty busy. We have an appointment set up for Friday and they are excited to see us again so we are hoping that all goes well! That's pretty much the update on investigators! Keep praying for them!

We found this new zone of houses that we didn't really realize before that is close to this huge supermarket that is kind of like the Italian version of Walmart. Well we've been doing a lot of finding there. We got really lucky because it started raining one day. When it rains, it is miserable when it is already really humid, but people generally feel a little bad for you, which is nice. Well we started ringing and knocking, and on the speakers we heard a kid yell "Non ce nessuno!" (There isn't anyone here) but the gate opened. We were a bit confused and then a lady walked out. She asked who we were, we gave her the spill, but she said she wasn't interested. She then felt bad that it was raining and invited us in for a minute. Go rain! Well it turns out that her ten year old son had friends over, and was expecting another friend so he answered the door like that as a joke. Well like usual, this woman, Giulietta thought we were J.W.s at first, but was fascinated that we were Americans. She was also really interested in our church. She asked a bunch of questions, and we taught her a part of the first lesson. She is a very active catholic, but she doesn't like a few things about the church. We gave her a Book of Mormon and scheduled to come back again. We have a lot of hope for her and I'll keep you informed on how things go. 

On Thursday we were invited to a birthday party for one of the little girls in the Basignana family. It was at McDonalds in this little wannabe mall complex in Olbia. We were a little confused on why we were invited to a nine-year-old birthday party, but it turns out that Sister Basignana had brought us to talk to all of her friends who were the parents of the kids that attended. It was funny because we were the life of the party with the adults! They were asking a lot of questions about the church, and hopefully something will come from it someday!

A little bit of success we saw was a less active come back to church! She has been a member forever, and we have been visiting her a lot, but she finally came! Members were really excited to see her and we hope that she stays active. She fed us one of the best dinners I have had since I've been here so that was pretty memorable. 

As far as the language goes it's getting a lot better! We speak almost all Italian outside of the house and we are even trying to switch to Italian inside the house too so we can get this language down! The members make fun of me and we joke because I always write down funny terms or new words I learn when we speak! It's pretty funny but I hope I can get a descent Italian accent down this next year and a half.

Well that was the week! I'm sorry this email is a little all over the place, but it's hard to write down all my thoughts sometimes! This next transfer is going to be a lot of fun and we have a lot of hope for it. We'll definitely see Ignazio's baptism and I'm feeling a few more! Thanks for everything you guys do for me. Not long now until Christmas and we get to talk! I love you all so much! I Love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg. Have a great week! Vi voglio bene!

Con gran'affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sei mesi nella missione!‏

Well tomorrow is the six month mark and I can't believe it! And just a
few weeks until I get to talk to you all! I'm loving this Christmas
season here in Italy. There are lights being put up everywhere around
Olbia and it looks beautiful. I'll have to send pictures soon! Well
this has been a great week as usual and I've enjoyed every minute of

Ignazio is progressing great as usual. He is still preparing for his
baptism that is coming up quickly. He is so ready, but we are just
hoping that he personally feels ready so keep praying for him! We have
another lesson tonight so I am really excited for that. We had Family
Home Evening with them last night and he is getting so much more
knowledgeable in the Gospel as he participates in discussions and
makes very insightful comments. He is such a great man!
I want to start off with a sweet story. When we did splits with the
assistants Anziano Banks and I found a man named Lino. He said that it
wasn't a good time and to come back a later day. Well, that is an
excuse that we always get from people, and when we return they tell us
they aren't interested, or say to come back again because they are
still busy. Unfortunately, I didn't think anything of it at first. On
Friday we went back to Calangianus (where we had found him) and had
lunch with the Branca Family, and then went out and began working. As
we were leaving Alessio joked and said, "I won't give you a ride back
to Olbia if you don't find three new investigators." We set out and
began knocking. As we were searching I had a feeling that we should go
see this Lino guy. The only problem was that I forgot where he lived.
I usually do a good job with writing down addresses but the night we
found him was foggy and dark and I didn't write it down. So we just
starting walking. We went down a street that I thought was it and I
decided to knock on a random door. Well, it wasn't him, and it was
actually someone that I remember quite distinctly because she yelled
at us a few weeks before for knocking. So that was fun! I asked her if
she knew where Lino lived and she said his house was right next door
(all these houses on this particular street look the same). I was only
one off so we went and knocked. A woman answered the door and we told
her who are and asked if Lino was home. She said that he just got back
from work and she invited us in. We saw Lino and he was happy to see
us. We sat down and began breaking the ice. Everything was very
natural and quick, but we taught them the first lesson, gave them
invites to pray and to read the Book of Mormon, and then set up a
return appointment. We have two new investigators! Lino and Giovanna.
They are both solid and I have high hopes for them. We still need to
get to know them better to find out clues and teach to their needs,
but they seem to have really been prepared to hear the Gospel! When we
go back to Calangianus this week we will see them again! I'm so
excited! Alessio still gave us a ride even though we only found two
new investigators!
Other than that nothing else has really happened with other

Other than finding Lino and Giovanna it's been a pretty average week. I bore my
testimony in church just in case I get booted off the island in a few
weeks. The members said that I have progressed well in the language so
that was nice hearing compliments from them. On Sunday night we had a
ton of fun finding people. Our goal is to find two potential
investigators a day. Well we went to this new area and we found six
potentials! Everyone was really nice and some of them have some really
great potential.
On Monday the Anziani from Sassari came for district meeting, so that
was fun. I'm trying to think of more exciting things to write about!
Oh, some little kid who thought we were Jehovah Witnesses threw a rock
at me from off a balcony and it hit me straight on the head. I didn't
acknowledge the fact that I had been hit to give him the satisfaction
of a perfect hit, so I completely ignored it and we walked off. Me and
my companion talked about it later and we commented on how amazing the
Savior is for not thinking one bad thought against anyone. When that
rock hit my head many negative thoughts were rolling through my head
of what I would want to do to that punk kid if I wasn't a missionary,
and I'm just glad we have the Lord's perfect example to lead us and
help us. Just a funny little story!

Well I'm sorry there aren't too many more details to write about!
Things are going great here and it's getting nice and chilly with a
bit of wind. Italians look really good in the winter with their
stylin' winter fashion. This European style is really rubbing off on
me! To finish off I want to say how much I love you all! I love you
Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you
Heather, and I love you Greg! Have a great week and I look forward to
hearing from you all again next week! We'll see if I have a transfer
call or not! Vediamo! Allora, vi voglio benissimo! Un abbraccio!
A presto,
Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ciao from Cagliari!

Hey Guys!
Well I'm writing from Cagliari now! I'm not sure how long I will have here because we are planning on going for a little "giro" around Cagliari for p-day and maybe visit a castle. Cagliari is huge compared to Olbia! I have a strong desire to serve here if I get called to any another city on the island.  It is really unlikely for a missionary to stay with his trainer for more than two transfers so if we went for a fourth that would be pretty crazy. I haven't really thought much of it but people are really surprised that Anziano Vitali and I have been together for over three transfers, because, apparently, over time problems start happening. I'm blessed to have a great companion like him that's easy to get along with and that we work well together.

Unfortunately this was a bit of an uneventful week regarding some aspects because we were both told by Sister Kelly to stay home all day Saturday and Sunday. Two days without missionary work was seriously an eternity! When Sunday night approaches and we turn in our numbers for the week it just seems like a week isn't enough! And then you only get six of them in a transfer. And only about sixteen of those in the mission. There just isn't enough time! Anyways, Anziano Vitali caught the flu and was even coughing out a little bit of blood so I told him to call Sister Kelly and she told us to stay home. We were really disappointed because we had every minute planned out on Saturday filled with lessons with investigators and less-actives. When we called to cancel they were pretty happy that we didn't come and get them sick too! I also got a little sick but not too bad and I'm currently being annoyed by a little runny nose. She said to try to avoid going to church on Sunday but we went for Sacrament meeting to greet our investigators and see how they are doing.

Speaking of investigators, I'll share the best news of the week. Wednesday night we taught Ignazio the Plan of Salvation and it went well. Since him and his wife do a companionship study often, they have covered nearly everything we have to teach to him before baptism, so our lessons are a bit of a review and really familiar. He asks good questions and really understands everything well. He is going to be such a strong member of the church. I keep saying this but I'm so honored to be a small part in his conversion experience. This whole mission for two years would undeniably be worth it just to see their family be sealed together forever in the temple. Che bella! Well,  we did a lesson with him on Friday with just us and him. We prayed hard for this lesson. The main thing we prayed about though was how and when we could set a fixed baptismal date. Through prayers and lots of thinking we decided that he can be ready by December the seventeenth.

We went over to his house, and it was such an amazing lesson. I would have to say it was the best lesson we've taught since I've been on my mission. We did a little recap on the Plan of Salvation and then started talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I absolutely love the thirty-first chapter of 2 Nephi when it explains so simply the "doctrine of Christ." This might be my favorite thing to teach as a missionary. I scrutinized this passage of scripture, and learned that the simple doctrines of the Gospel are definitely the most important and the topics we must focus on. Anyways, the lesson was going great and we told him that we wanted these blessing of baptism for him. We then told him that we thought about it and prayed about it and that we knew he could be ready to be baptized on the 17th of December. The Spirit was so strong in the room, and I know that everyone could feel it. It was a calm and a peaceful feeling. Ignazio gave a little smile and said that it was a bit soon, but that he wants with all his heart to be ready for that date. He then said tearfully that he was afraid that the Lord wouldn't forgive him of his past transgressions. We bore testimony of the Atonement and that he is doing everything right at this point, etc. He likes the goal and we outlined everything that he needs to do to be ready for this date. I really want him to gain a passion for reading the Book of Mormon because teaching lessons can only go so far. We know from the prophets and apostles that through working and acting we personally grow our faith in Gesù Cristo (sorry, I just started typing it in Italian and didn't feel like changing it). Anyways, the more we talk to him about it the more excited he gets and his wife says that he really feels good about the date. We are really excited! Keep praying for him to be ready and for him to feel ready himself. There is not much more progress with other investigators. We are still trying hard to progress them to baptism but not much has changed in the last week. We have been trying to find new investigators to meet our goal but haven't found much luck yet. It's okay though, we will! 

Zone conference was great! We left on Monday to head to Cagliari by train, and it was a very long train ride. We played this really popular traditional Italian card game called scopa so we had a nice time even though it was a four hour train ride. I never thought that I'd travel nearly every form of transportation while on my mission! Car, plane, boat, bus, train. Our new zone leader is Anziano Errante. He is a native Italian from a small town up north and he's only been a member for three years, and one of those years has been during his mission already. He is so awesome! I hope so bad to serve with him. He doesn't speak English so I've been speaking almost only Italian for the past few days with him. It was a blast being with all of the other Anziani and Sorelle. I'm not the youngest one on the Island anymore! Sorella Turley in Cagliari is training a greenie so I guess I'm officially not a greenie anymore!

It was so nice to see Presidente and Sorella Kelly. This zone conference was dedicated to Christmas and we celebrated together with a huge lunch. Anziano Vitali and I brought mashed potatoes and they turned out pretty good! Presidente gave an awesome training that was super spiritual but also really practical.

I finally got a new memory card for my camera and have been taking a lot of pictures of our little adventure around Cagliari for p-day so I'm excited to send pictures but I want to wait until I can go to a trusted computer that isn't infected with viruses! 

Things are going so great. I can't believe I'm one week away from my six month mark! So fast! I am glad all is well back home. Thank you all for everything you do and for your loving prayers. I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg. Have a great week and stay safe! Vi amo e vi voglio benissimo! A presto!

Con affetto, 
Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Buon giorno di ringraziamento!‏

Buon giorno di ringraziamento!

I think that's how you translate Happy Thanksgiving in Italian. I'm not sure though because it's obviously not celebrated here so it looks like i'm going turky-less this year!

This has been another interesting week. Ups and downs. Maybe some of the negative attitude comes from the bad weather. It's been raining a lot and when random rain that we can't predict hits us we come home cold and drenched. It's a lot of fun though to look in the mirror after you like a mess! Unfortunately missionaries don't have the luxary of the Weather Channel on demand, therefore, we get hammered if we forget the right coat or umbrella. 

I guess I want to get the worst things out of the way first. Bad news first, right? It literally brings me to tears just thinking about it but Leonardo told us not to come back. We called him to set up another appointment and he told us that his wife wasn't in agreement with us being there, and that was the extent to the conversation. Well we decided to go back to his house to talk to him face to face. He opened the door and he seemed different. He said that he was not interested at all. Looking inside the house we saw his wife on the coach with one of the babies and she wasn't happy at all that we showed up. He went to give us his copy of The Book of Mormon back and we insisted that he would keep it. He said goodbye and closed the door. I had to sit down for a second after that because I was shattered. It felt like all my hope for him was hit by a truck. It was tough at first especially because how quick we found him, and how quick we lost him. And the thing that stinks is that it seems like it has been happening a lot. First with Gabriella, then with Marissa, now with Leonardo. I remember a talk that Elder Holland gave and that I saw in the MTC. He said to missionaries, "If you don't get a return appointment for a second lesson, that means you didn't teach a good enough first." This quote hits me hard and yes, people have their free agency, but I really need to improve my teaching. I think I have used the language barrier as an excuse too much to turn to my companion to finish what I want to say when I mess up and get embarrassed. It's hard learning and teaching in a new langauge, I'm not going to lie! Missions would be impossible and crazy to do without the help of the Lord. 

One thing cool from that experience at the door with Leonardo that I'd like to share is something that I've forgot to mention in emails before. Remember how it's been talked about how, for babies, the veil from the premortal life to here in this life is so thin? Well being a missionary has really opened my eyes to this. When we were talking to Leonardo he had his newborn baby girl in his hands. When she looked at us, people that she's never really seen before in her life, she smiled the biggest smile and stretched her hands out towards us like she wanted us to hold her. I know that is not a big deal, but countless times Anziano Vitali and I have walked passed crying babies in the arms of their parents and as soon as they see us they stop and just smile, and the parents look at us like we just preformed a miracle. Randomly we see little kids wave at us. And the only thing I can really say about these experiences is that they know. They know that we are servants of the Lord, and these little experiences, that could be nothing, have really strengthened my testimony that I am called from the living prophet on the earth to preach the Savior's gospel. I don't mean to brag, but I can't believe how lucky I am! Even when I have these little tough times and when my hopes crash, I have this knowledge and comfort that the Lord has promised to be with me. Since Anziano Harris was there when we found him, I talked to him while they were reporting their numbers on Sunday, and I told him the news, a bit negatively. He said something that really hit me and that I will always remember when my hopes in someone crash like that. He said, "Ya man, that's tough, but that doesn't effect or change the miracle of how we found him." Oh how true that is, and I won't forget it.

Other than that bad news something weird happened to my camera's memory card and it looks like the data got corrupted when I tried taking pictures off to send to you guys, but we'll see, hopefully they're not gone! 

Okay time for the GREAT news. We started teaching Ignazio Mazzone and it's been great. At the end of our first lesson we all definitely felt the Spirit, and we invited him to be baptised. After the invitation he was quiet for a few seconds, and then began nodding his head yes. He said that he wanted to, but he wants to make sure he is ready first, and that he knows that the Church is true. It was a really powerful moment for sure. We taught him the second lesson just this morning and it went great. He is progressing well and keeping up with all his commitments. He even reads his scripture reading assignments with his daughter and discusses them with her. It was awesome hearing him pray for the first time, and he also bore his testimony about finding Christ after being an atheist in church during Gospel Principles class. This whole thing is so amazing! I remember when I first met him and all the members said don't worry about him, he doesn't want anything to do with the Church. The Lord definitely prepares people in His own due time. We are feeling prompted to fix a set baptismal date, even before Christmas. It's definitely possible! Keep praying for him!

Other than him we have been teaching the Tache's a little bit, and they are doing well and enjoying church more and more as they make friends. I don't remember if I wrote it in the last email but our mission has a goal for each companionship to get six new investigators before December 11th. Since finding work becomes a bit difficult during the holiday seasons, president wants us to book our time with teaching (which is what I'd rather be doing than finding). Therefore, we've been doing a lot of finding lately... in the rain. We have found very little luck, but we are trying! One night we knocked on this guy's house, and all he said was, "Fermatevi!". Which basically means, "Stay right there." We asked why and he told us that he was calling the police. We thought it was extremely funny, especially because of the conversation he probably had with the police regarding two missionaries at his door that needed to be arrested. We waited and no cops showed up so we took off.

Hey! I'm not really finished, and we have to go for another appointment, but I will come back on...

Love ya all tons! 

Anziano Lacey

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Miracoli ci sono!‏

Buon giorno famiglia!

Hey guys! Thanks for the awesome emails! It was really nice hearing from you all. And I finally got the package! Thank you so much, the candy was great, the note was cute and I loved the little pictures! Dad, you look like a stud in that wake boarding picture! Grazie mille! This has been such an awesome week! I've loved every minute of it. 

The investigators are doing great! We are now up to five progressing investigators which isn't too shabby! Step by step. The Tache's had an interesting experience. In the house they live in there are some people from Pakistan and they said on November 11 that the world was going to end at 11:11 o'clock at night, so Iona called us and frantically said that she was freaked out and didn't know what to do. To say the least they want to move to a different home and she said that from that experience she was so sad that she wasn't baptized so shes going to do everything she can to get baptized. She might go live by herself in Sassari so we'll see! They are doing great though. 

We haven't been able to visit our investigators in Calangianus since last week, but they are reading and praying. We just have to get them to church now! We officially picked up a new investigator on Sunday. Drum roll please... Ignazio Mazzone agreed to take the lessons! We talked to him about it after church and he said he would love to take them and that he needs them. A few days before Sunday we went to talk to his wife to see if he was ready for the lessons and she gave us the thumbs up to ask! She also shared some tender stories about some of the reasons why he might have had this sudden change and this want to be closer to God. His sister has a tumor in her intestines that the doctors found recently. I guess it's been there for about two years so it's really serious. Because of this experience he's got down on his knees to talk with his Heavenly Father. On Sunday his wife asked him to bear his testimony in Gospel Principles class. He used to be atheist, but know he knows that God exists. Che bello! He's in Cagliari right now, but when he gets back we will have the first lesson with him. So either tomorrow or Friday. I can't wait to tell you all how it goes! Now is where faith, hope, and a ton of prayer come in handy!

Well, yesterday I had one of the coolest experiences that has ever happened to me so far on my mission happen. We did a split with the Sassari Anziani and I was in Olbia with Anziano Harris. We went to do a few pass backs in this one zone where we found a few potential investigators a few days earlier but we didn't have any success finding them and some were home but didn't answer the door. We were stopping nearly everyone the we saw on the streets (I'm so grateful that the car is gone, I'm starting to become a pro at street contacting and getting numbers - it's a huge testimony builder that the Lord strengthens our  weaknesses). In the end, we were not having too much success. We went to a few palazzi to do some house to house and the last door we knocked on a man told us to wait a second. When he opened the door Anziano Harris said that we were missionaries and that we were bringing a message about Christ and that we wanted to share it with him. He said alright and invited us inside. As we were walking in he changed his mind and said to come back another time. I was a little bummed, and as Anziano Harris started walking away I used my Sherlock Holmes skills to find clues. I looked inside his house and saw two newborn twins in car seats on the coach. I learned how to be very persistent from the assistants when we had our split, so I decided to put into practice.  Pretty much everything I said after this was completely lead by the Spirit. I first told him that we weren't Jehovah Witnesses, and that immediately took the weirdness away (it works well to say that) and right away I began teaching him truths about the family at the door and how we can live with our families forever, etc. He was really listening intently and again (knowing that we weren't J.W.'s, invited us in his home. We sat at the table and began getting to know him a little bit. He is a really young guy named Leonardo, married, with two new babies. It was also quite the coincidence because he has a really good friend living in California (where I'm from obviously), and a friend in Idaho (where Anziano Harris is from). We asked if we could began with a prayer and he was down for it. After that we taught completely relying on the Spirit. We didn't teach him the entire first lesson, just the parts that seemed to be the best for him at this time without overloading him with a ton of new stuff. We taught him a lot about the Book of Mormon and it all seemed to make sense to him. During the lesson he talked about an experience he had. He is a very religious guy, and of the Catholic faith. He took his two babies to be baptized, but while the ceremony was taking place he said he didn't have a good feeling about it and didn't like how the Catholic church worked. He said that their priests and other leaders shouldn't be men of God and wear gold, silver, and other expensive and flashy clothing. He also said more but I don't want to get into too much detail but to say the least he felt that the Catholic church didn't have all the truth. He said something that was perfect: "Today in the world it's hard to find all the truth." Immediately I opened the Book of Mormon to the most commonly used missionary scripture in Moroni 10. I asked him to read it and when he finished I bore my testimony to him. It seemed to really hit him. We asked if we could meet with him again and he said of course. He wasn't sure at what time he was free but we got his number and once we fix another appointment he will officially be a new investigator. It was such a cool experience with being led by the Spirit and listening to it's promptings. I have a lot of faith in Leonardo and he seems to be one of the elite! I've been prayer to find and baptize families! I think this is the answer. 

Last Thursday wasn't anything way special. We went to a recent converts home and helped him build this huge cabinet/closet/bed frame thing, so that was kind of fun. I love eating with him because he went to school to become a cook, therefore he makes good food. The only problem is that he has this huge, fat, stinky, old dog that likes to breathe on my food waiting for me to give him some food that I will never give. 

Friday was awesome. We did a full day of splits with the assistants! I was with Anziano Banks and it went so well. He was a week away from finishing his mission, so he knows missionary work in Italia! He taught me so much about how to get new investigators and it was amazing to see how much people you can find in one day. He also had a lot of little tricks he liked to do that actually worked and altogether I learned so much. During some finding work we actually found one of our investigator, Agostina's, nieces named Martina who agreed to meet with us! I wish the assistants could have stayed longer, but I'm grateful for their decision to work with us for a little while. 

Sunday was a bit crazy! All of the youth on Sardegna was doing a youth activity at the Branca house, and we had all of them and some parents in church. The Olbia chapel isn't a church building, kind of a little shop turned into a church. It's way small. Well we had about 50 people in this little broom cupboard, and some of us had to sit on primary chairs one foot off the ground. It was awesome to see that many people, but it was so crowded! After church we had a big lunch altogether and we all had fun together. 

On Monday we went to Sassari for a little district meeting and Anziano Harris and I came back to Olbia (about four hours of train riding). It was kind of cool, on our way to a teaching appointment these boys were playing soccer and one kid kicked it hard and it flew past one kid straight towards us. They yelled for me to kick the ball back to them, and I was super nervous, afraid that I wouldn't kick it well enough and ruin our good missionary name based on my lack of skill with soccer. Luckily, I kicked it and it flew right back to the kid. He was impressed and ran up to give me a handshake. He said something about how he didn't know J.W.'s could play soccer and we quickly cleared that up that we weren't them. It was way funny and I'm glad I didn't mess up!

That night we had FHE with the Mazzone's agian, and it was a blast, as usual. I was a little nervous though because it was all a mess of seafood dishes. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it and I'm excited to go try Bubba Gump Shrimp and Red Lobster back in the States.

Well that's the awesome week! Other than that I taught the beginning English course class for the first time and it was pretty difficult but I had fun! Things are going really good over here in Olbia. Are mission goal for the next few weeks is to find a bunch of new investigators before the holidays when it's hard to find new ones when they are all busy. We are working hard and we'll see baptisms soon! 

Thank you all so much for your prayers and your support! I couldn't do it without you all! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg. Take care and have a fantastic week! I love you and miss you so much! Vi voglio benissimo! 

Con grande affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cinque mese nella missione!‏

Buona sera! We had a great p-day! We went to a beautiful island called La Madalena, just off the coast of Sardegna. The assistants spent the day with us and on Friday they want to do splits with us, so I'm very excited because I know I'm going to learn a lot from them. We took a bus around the island, and then decided that we wanted to go hiking in the rocks. We went to a Chinese store (they have sweet deals and they are kind of like thrift shops) and we got some sweet 'hook ups' because Anziano Banks speaks Chinese. We bought new outfits since we came to the island in our suits, and we had a blast and even played a little bit of two on two soccer in a mini soccer field. It was such a fun day!
Well I might have to keep this letter a little short. Our usual Internet point that we go to is closed for a little while and we get a deal from the Pakistani men who own it, and this other spot we are in is pretty pricey, so we'll see! This week was great! I'm trying to remember details because I usually prepare points to write about when I come to the Internet point, but I haven't prepared anything today! So here it goes:
Our investigators are doing great! The Tache family is doing a lot better. They came to church this week so we were very excited to have them their. They have also been a fountain of referrals, especially since here daughter and son-in-law seem really interested to hear about the gospel. It's still been a pain trying to get out their to see them, but we finally met the husband and he greeted us with big hugs, so that was cool. The Tache's have been seeing a lot of blessings and they are very grateful for them. We haven't been able to see Marissa yet. We had an appointment with her, and we walked an hour and twenty minutes to get there, but her daughter said she wasn't home, so that was a little disappointing. But the most disappointing thing was as we were writing her a little note to leave in the mailbox to say that we stopped by, we saw a window open and it was her. So we don't know what to think about that. We get our car back on Monday I think, so we will try to see her again. It's been impossible to see Agostina and her family since they live in Calangianus, but we have the assistants with us on Friday for splits so we will see her again then.
Ignazio Mazzone is doing well! He came to church again this Sunday and it was great to see him all dressed up in a suit. We stopped by their house to drop off some dishes that they gave us and we talked to his family a bit while he was getting dressed in the bedroom. His wife said that he has already stopped drinking and that they do scripture study everyday together as a couple. We are just trying to figure out what to do to start getting him to listen to the lessons! His wife said that she will talk to him about it so we are just waiting for that now. After he came out we taught their whole family a lesson and it went well. I'm still praying hard for him! All he needs to do is listen to the missionary lessons and he can be baptized! It was really cool, his wife, Sorella Mazzone just got called to be the Gospel Principles teacher so it was really cool listening to her teach to her husband mostly. We'll see some big miracles here soon!
Monday was a little crazy. We wanted to do district meeting, but didn't want the Sassari Anziani to come to Olbia because they had been traveling for days, so we took the train to Sassari. During the ride we had to make a switch onto another train, and in the process of that the phone slipped out of my pocket and I didn't realize it. On this other train a police officer came up to where we were sitting, and asked me to take out my phone. I thought that was extremely strange and right away that movie, Source Code, that we saw before I left popped into my head. I was scarred to death when I didn't have it and then he said that we left it on the other train, but that it will be in Sassari in a few hours to pick up. So we were phone-less for a bit.
We then met up with the Sassari Anziani at the train station and I met Anziano Hill from the same city that Six Flags is at. I think it's Valencia..?  Anyways, we had a great time traveling through SassariSassari (since he's not from Olbia). It was a fun day!
After we got back from Sassari we had an appointment to have family home evening with some members of the branch, and of course, they fed us, but while we were on the train we got a call from the Mazzone familgia that they wanted to have us over for their FHE also (and of course we couldn't pass that up since Ignazio was going to be there). In the end, we had two very huge dinners. I thought I was going to explode! It was so much fun being with the Mazzone's! Like usual. It's now a habit that every time we come over, their six year old daughter Laura, gives me a little lesson in Italian grammar of the things she is learning in school. She is so funny! And brutally honest when I make a mistake.
Yesterday we did a lot of finding work. We went to visit a former investigator from other Anziani in the past named Angela who is from Brazil. Her whole family is members of the church there, and she was very excited to see us. Her brother is coming to visit her soon, and said that they will be going to church together this week, so we are excited about that. We also knocked on a few houses and found some people that might be interested, but hopefully for the right reason. It was an apartment full of young women in their twenties, and they told us to come back, so it's a little sketchy. We will have to bring a member for sure! But one lady said she was really interested so we'll see!
English course is alright, we're just hoping to get an investigator from it soon. The numbers are dwindling, but there are a few people that might be interested in the Gospel, so we are keeping our fingers crossed!
Well that was basically the week! We are trying to be more productive, and overcome one of our biggest weaknesses, which is street contacting. It just gets so awkward at times, but it's what you're supposed to do, so it's my goal to overcome my fear of it during this transfer. So far so good! Besides people shrugging you off, but that's life as a missionary at times! Oh well!
I want to share a cool scripture that really hit me this week. It's Helaman 3:29-30:
-29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—  -30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.
I love this little passage of scripture. It uses some very detailed imagery and wording to express how important and significant it is to study the scriptures, and to "lay hold upon the word of God." This promises to us that if we study the scriptures, we will be protected against the adversary, and that we will LAND our souls in the kingdom of heaven. How powerful is that!? Of course these are things that you already know, but it's always good to get a little bit of reinforcement to back us up!

As far as the language goes, it's coming along! I'm working my butt off so that I have it down this transfer. I'm still having troubling speaking it a little bit, but "piano, piano" it's getting better. I'm excited for when you all get to hear me speak it next month!

Well to wrap this up I love you all tons! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg. Vi voglio bene! State bravi! Un abraccio! Take care and have a great week!
A presto,
Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Trasferimento #3: Un'altro a Olbia!!!‏

Buon Giorno la mia famiglia!!!
Tutto - Castle at Posado
Castle at Posado
We got the transfer calls, and Anziano Vitali and I are doing another one together in Olbia! We are both really excited and have set some high goals so that we WILL see baptisms this transfer. I can't believe that towards the end of this next transfer I will have six months down! I don't want to think about time... I might have to extend it to three years just FYI.

Things are going great here! We've had an interesting week with a few troubles but it always turned out good in the end. The heavenly virtue of patience has been needed! 

To kick this one off with the progress of our investigators. The Tache's have had a bit of a set back. They didn't come to church this week, and they have not wanted to see us very often. We've seen Iona more, but Ionel hardly at all because of his new job.

 The family that we found from Calangianus is doing great! They are called the Savigni family. We stopped by their house and met Agostina's husband for the first time, and he seemed great! He was also excited to see us and it sounded like Agostina had been talking a lot about us to him. We set up an appointment to see them this Friday, and we are trying to get her to read the Book of Mormon! We are really excited to see them again and we have high hopes for their awesome family! As far as Marissa goes, we will see her tomorrow, and we are really praying hard and preparing for this next lesson. Hopefully we can start seeing her more often than once a week about. 

On Saturday we went to Sassari for the Halloween party. It was a ton of fun, but Anziano Vitali and I were nervous the whole time as we waited for transfer calls that didn't come until 10 o'clock that night! As you have seen from Alessio's facebook, and according to your emails, yes, we were smurfs. Smurfs are really popular here in Italy apparently, and we decided it would be funny to be them. Also, in Italian, smurfs are called puffi, so we thought it was even funnier according to our little sense of humor! We had a ton of fun and ate some interesting food! Halloween in Italy is definitely not the same though. For example, nothing really happens on the 31st, but on November 1st everyone goes to the cemeteries to visit their dead relatives. It's definitely a national holiday because nearly everyone was off work. We went the cemetery just to see what it was like and it was packed! We then went to see one of our potential investigators named Giuseppe who was selling flowers near the cemetery for the mad rush. Then, on the 2nd of this month, the children (in the morning) do their trick-or-treating. It's weird because they don't dress up and it's clear daylight out. 

Sunday was a bit of a nightmare for me. Church was great, we went to Calangianus to do more work which was great, but we ran into some interesting people. While walking to Agostina's house, this woman with her two dogs came up to us and asked if she could talk to us for a minute. We said of course and then she then began to express her frustration because somebody forgot to close a gate and now there was a cow on the loose and she was afraid for her dogs safety. After about five minutes of venting she asked who we were. We gave her the spill, and she asked a very interesting question that I had never heard before, and that I thought I would never be asked on my mission. She asked if animals will be in heaven after we die. She then expressed her frustration again because the catholic priests told her that animals are damned because they can't be baptized and saved. We told her that even animals have spirits and that heaven wouldn't be heaven if we didn't have the people we love, even the pets we love also. I should have referred her to the movie, "All Dogs Go to Heaven." It would probably explain it more clearly. Well, we got into a classic gospel discussion, and she invited us to her house which was close by. We walked there and met her parents. Now, I want to be completely honest and descriptive as possible. I was a beyond a little nervous to go there, mainly because the lady wasn't entirely on the normal side. I couldn't imagine her home life too. Well her mom was 82 years old, and her dad was 93 and missing all of his teeth. I couldn't understand a word he said. The lady and her mom would yell back and forth about everything because they were having a bit of a communication problem. The dogs were running all over the house, it smelled funny, the old man was doing something funny with his lip, and the t.v. was on the highest volume possible yet, the yells of the two women surpassed the talk show on the t.v. until their voices broke the sound barrier and permanently scarred my eardrums. It was miserable. We managed to reach a calmer setting and get the yelling stopped with the t.v. turned down a bit and taught them a little lesson. Don't get me wrong, they were super nice, but it was just a comical setting. After we closed with a prayer and barely escaped from staying for dinner, I saw the old lady kiss Anziano Vitali. Now, I noticed the younger lady, that she had somewhat of a mustache that was thicker than uncle Lance's, but I didn't notice the old lady until she was pulling me in to embrace me for the kisses. Her face was covered in long, white hairs that poked and rubbed against my cheeks. Ewww. And then her daughter came in with the mustache, and her lips that had just smoked three cigarettes in the duration of the time we were there touched my cheeks too. It was a nightmare! After we left the house we sprinted to a bar and washed our cheeks in the bathroom. I tell you this so that my sufferings can give you a little laugh. 

After that we had a bit of bad luck for the next 24 hours. On our way home from Calangianus, Anziano Vitali turned the car and the power steering was acting funny, so he pulled over (at a spot that was extremely unsafe with traffic). He turned off the car for some reason, but it wouldn't turn back on. Great. We were broke down. Luckily, Claudio Branca was on his way back from Olbia dropping off his girlfriend, and after an hour of waiting for him he tried to see what was the problem. He couldn't figure it out so we at least pushed the car to a safer location and he gave us a ride home. President Branca is a mechanic so he's taking care of the car, but he says it won't be done until the end of this week. So we are car-less. When we woke up on Monday morning we didn't have any water, so we worked with the landlord for about an hour to fix it and to see what was wrong. After we figured that out our power was out, and had to figure that out and lost another hour. Things were a little crazy and stressful but we managed to get through it. It wasn't turning out to be the greatest Halloween! 

A member of the branch called us and needed some help at her store, so we went and worked there picking up refrigerators and other heavy devices until we were flat out exhausted. Neither Anziano Vitali nor I were in the greatest of moods. Well we received a call from sister Mazzone in our ward and she invited us over for dinner and family home evening. Now she is the one who's husband is a non-member but has just started going to church. We had an amazing night with them, and I have never felt closer to the feeling of being with you guys than I have when I'm with them. We played games, laughed at funny stories, and were taught an amazing lesson about trust. Her husband is such a great man, and I know he's going to join the church. I'm praying that he is my first baptism on the mission. Heavenly Father is definitely preparing his family to be together forever! It's such a beautiful thing, and I would ask that you all to include the Mazzone family in your prayers so that we can see them enter the temple and be sealed for eternity! Che bella!!! Miracoli ci sono! 

Well this was the week! It's going so good and I'm loving it. I'm having the biggest spiritual journey of my life, I'm having way too much fun, and I'm making some eternal friends. Who wouldn't want to serve a mission? Ya, you give a few things up for a little while, but you gain so much more! I'm too lucky to be serving here at this time. Wow. Well, I wish you all the best! Grazie per i vostri esempi per me! Vi voglio bene! Vi amo! Prego per voi ogni giorno! Alla prossima!

Con amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sono quasi finito con il mio secondo trasferimento!‏


Happy Halloween!!! Yes, they celebrate Halloween here in Italy, but it's a little different and not as big as it is in America. Saturday night we are going to an activity in Sassari so I'm excited for that!

This has been an awesome week! Things have been going very well. To start off we have found two new investigators that have a lot of potential! We are really excited for them! The Tache's are doing well. They are still searching for a better house and Iona is finding work almost every day which is good. They still love coming to church and the members really like them, so all is well! We have finally been having more teaching opportunities, and a bit less of finding work, which is nice. It's hard to not get frustrated when going from house to house!

On Friday night we went to a town called Posada to visit some of our members that have the cutest family! Our main reason for going there first was to see a potential investigator we met in Olbia but lived in a tiny town close to Posada called Siniscola. We had a tough time finding his house, but he directed us there on the phone. When we got to the door his mother answered and shooed us away! We tried calling him back but he never answered. So we went and saw this family. We had so much fun and the nine-year-old girl named Sara had me help her with English homework and then I read a story about Rapunzel to the other little girl named Alice. It was a lot of fun and I love their family! They also made us a very good homemade pizza. We want to go visit a castle today for p-day which is close to their house so we'll see them again tonight. 
Castle on top of rocks

On Saturday, Alessio came to Olbia to help us out with teaching. We went to see Ritta again, but she still just wants to Bible bash. Alessio used to be Catholic, and so she is very interested to know the reasons why he left. We haven't made much progress with her, so we'll see what we'll do. I think the main thing she doesn't like about our church is that our priesthood authorities have families. I say that is something beautiful about our church! We also met with Iona and had a really good lesson with her regarding the First Vision. We wanted to build her testimony the God and Jesus Christ did in fact appear to Joseph Smith, and it was amazing to hear here bear testimony about it after we watched the Restoration video. We also went and visited on of our members who is very poor. His health is not the greatest, and he can't work. His daughter left for Madrid for work, but came home because she is having mental problems where she has little episodes and forgets her memory. It was very sad because when we went to his house she had an episode while we were there. After he calmed her down he began crying and we comforted him and shared with him some encouraging scriptures. It was a really sad and touching moment. 

Sunday was great! We had a lot of non-members in church. We saw a true miracle when one of our members brought her husband to church! Before, he didn't want anything to do with the church and utterly avoided it, but he finally came! We also were invited to their house for family home evening and it was amazing. This sister was so happy to have her husband there and be a part of the activity. We are praying hard that he will one day be baptized so that their family can be sealed in the Rome temple one day! He is a very great man and treats his wife with a lot of respect, which I really admire. Especially because just before we went to their house we were at our landlord's house (we are going to move church locations eventually and he tries to persuade us not to move) and he ordered his wife around like a slave!

After church on Sunday the Alessio invited us over for lunch so we decided to do some finding work in Calangianus. We worked for hours, and I was beginning to get frustrated, not going to lie. We hadn't found any true success at Calangianus before, therefore my 'hope tank' was running real low. Somebody called us and Anziano Vitali was talking to them on the phone. I sat down on the curb and said a little prayer for help. We were getting ready to head back to the Branca's house for dinner as we approached the last house on the street. We knocked on the door, waited for awhile, and then began walking away. As we were walking away a woman answered the door so we ran back up the stairs to greet her. We began talking, and she was a little hesitant at first. As we were "breaking the ice" she realized that we were normal, and invited us in the house. We asked if there was a man in the house (as a rule) and her twenty-year-old son and his friend were there. She was also very impressed and honored that we had that rule. She grabbed the two young men from the bedroom and brought them out to talk to us. We all hit it off right away! One of the guys was really into art and loved the fact that I made movies. The other was into economics like Anziano Vitali. We had a lot of fun talking and getting to know each other. After we all became best friends (the mom absolutely loved us), we taught them the first lesson. It went really well and we gave her a Book of Mormon. She said for us to come back again the next time we were in Calangianus, and she seems really interested in the gospel. We gave her some reading assignments, so we pray that she will feel the Spirit! We look forward to seeing them again soon. That would be amazing if the young men got baptized and served missions! I'll let my imagination go wild. 

I think the highlight of my week happened yesterday. We found this very nice woman named Marissa, but she kept postponing the time in which we would meet, but finally we had a set date for Tuesday. We went in the morning and she was very happy to see us. We sat a table on her front porch and began to get to know her a bit. She said that when she saw us for the first time she felt like she needed to meet with us and that we could bring a light into her life. It was so cool to here that! She then said that her daughter has been extremely ill lately, and has been going to the doctors to have tests to see if she has a problem with allergies to foods (something like that, I'm 100% perfect at understanding Italian yet) and she noted that things have been difficult. We told her how the Gospel blesses families and began to teach her the first lesson. She really enjoyed it and had a lot of questions. The only problem was that she seemed a little displeased with the fact that we don't pray to Mary or to the Saints. We will have to be very careful with what we say and how we teach her, but I feel that she is ready. We have another appointment to see her again and we hope that she comes to church. I don't know if I've talked about it yet, but in Italy they have a greeting they use by kissing each other on the left, then right cheeks. Of course as missionaries we aren't supposed to do it, but if somebody doesn't know we aren't supposed to deny it in order to not be rude. Well, Marissa gave us each the "baci" (pronounced ba-ch-e), which means that she really cares about us! It was hilarious, Anziano Vitali accidentally went for the right cheek while she was going for the left so they almost made lip contact! Hahaha. So far in Italy I've been "baci"-ed four times. Yes, I'm counting. 

Other than that we had English course again. We met a man named Fernando earlier that day wanted to know about English course, but then it got into a discussion about the Gospel. We the turned the conversation into a lesson as we opened up the church and taught him about the Restoration. He was literally blown away and left in awe. I wish you could have seen his face! He was really interested in the Book of Mormon and said he would start to read it. The thing that he was mostly blown away about was how well we spoke Italian. He told us that we were liars and that we couldn't have learned Italian this well, that fast. It was hilarious! He is a funny man who is a lawyer and we hope that he comes to English course often and becomes interested in the church! Giovanni gave me a book as a gift to help my Italian, so I was very grateful for that! The people here are so nice! 

Well that sums up the week! I am literally enjoying every minute of the mission. I love the people of Italy with all my heart. In just over a week I will be finished with my second transfer. I can hardly believe it because it seems like I haven't been her for that long at all. I don't want it to go by as fast as it has been so far! Too quick!!! This Saturday we'll se if I'm getting transfered out or not! I have a feeling I'll be here through Christmas. So we'll see! I'm scared though because I can't predict anything! President does have a reputation for sending elders from Olbia to Lecce on the mainland, so we'll see! 

To finish off, I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, I love you Greg! I miss you all tons! Have a happy and safe Halloween! No cavaties! Take care! Vi voglio un galassia di bene! Abbracci per tutti! Avete una settimana con miracoli e benedizione! Ricordatevi il Signore ogni giorno! Grazie a Dio possiamo vivere insieme per sempre! Sono molto grato per quello! A lo prossimo! Voi siete bravissimi!   

Con amore,

Anziano Clay Lacey

Sorridete sempre! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Buon Giorno!‏

Dear Family,

Ciao! Thanks for the awesome emails! It was really nice hearing from you all!

Things are great here in Europe! The weather on Sardegna can't decide whether it wants to stay hot or get cold but it's really nice! I'm looking forward to winter! We have been all over Sardegna this week and I'm pretty sure we've hit every major city. I've been exhausted! 

First, a little update on the investigators. The Tache's had a great blessing in their lives recently. Ionel found a full time job! It's a great job too and I think he works on boats or something like that. They are saving up so that they can buy a house to stay. It is starting to get very cold at night so this is a huge blessing. Iona has been finding a bit of work cleaning a lady's house so things are looking good for them! The only problem is that it looks like they can't get baptized unless they separate. So we'll see what happens. There are a few part member families that we are really working with to get their non member family members close to the gospel. We started teaching this one man who has a testimony of the church and most of all of the Book of Mormon. The only problem is he doesn't want to give up smoking to get baptized. It was really funny as he was telling us how mad he was at Emma Smith for the whole tobacco thing! He really doesn't like her. Another member who has a husband who is not a member set something up so that we could do a family home evening at her house. Her husband is slowly getting closer to the church as he is coming to more and more activities. We'll see! We also had a less active member come to the district conference with his family and he has been making a lot of progress. Other than that we are really trying hard to find new investigators. Our goal is two new ones each week as the standards of excellence. We really want to fill our time with teaching rather than finding, and we've been doing a ton of finding lately. But it's all fun!

Thursday was Anziano Vitali's birthday. The Anziani in Oristano have a baptismal date and they are both the zone leader and district leader so Anziano Vitali who is the other district leader had to do the baptismal interview. We drove all the way to Oristano, and then after the interview we went to McDonald's to celebrate his birthday. The young man that they baptized is so awesome! He is named Francesco and he is definitely one of the elect. He wants to serve a mission and it has been a lot of fun speaking with him at the conferences. It looks like the rest of his family might get baptized too! Miracle island of Sardegna!

On Saturday the Anziani from Sassari came into Olbia by bus and we drove to Cagliari. It was my turn to drive and I got stuck with the longest journey we had, but it's all good, I love seeing the beautiful Sard countryside! We made it to Cagliari and we went straight to the church building where the first session of district conference was to be held. President and Sister Kelly were already there, so it was fun to finally see them again! Conference was awesome. I sat next to this recent convert named Walter and it was fun speaking with him after the conference. Fratello Moro is another member that I really love from Sassari. I showed him my photo album and he loves our family! I need to take a picture with him and send it to you guys. He's got the deepest voice ever and it's so funny when he messes with the Sassari Anziani.  Anyways, right after the conference we had a Priesthood meeting where Alessio gave an awesome training. President Kelly (who is excellent at Italian) gave talks at every session of conference. 

It was fun being with all the Anziani at the Cagliari apartment. Anziano Green was transferred out and Anziano Longhurst who was a friend of mine in the MTC from the older zone was transferred in. We had a lot of fun catching up and he was telling me all about his first two transfers in Sicily. He saw some crazy things! I also talked to Anziano Larsen who is our zone leader and he only has two transfers left. He really gave me good tips on improving the language.

On Sunday we had one more session and then a lunch with the members. During the lunch President pulled me aside for my interview! It went good and from his hints I think I'll be on Sardegna for awhile! But who knows, people say that he is unpredictable! After that we finally had our zone conference and it was great. President really inspired us to work hard to find investigators. It had to be cut a little short because President and Sister Kelly had to catch their plane back to Rome. It was a great conference altogether, and I love being in Cagliari! Maybe I'll get to serve there!

That night we said goodbye and went to Sassari. We stayed the night there and decided to do splits and have both companionships work there. I was with Anziano Harris, and we did a lot of house work. I did have a really cool experience though, both with listening to the promptings of the Spirit, and with the Gift of Tongues. We were walking to go hit up another Palazzo when I saw to our right three mothers and their children. I felt like I should go talk to them. I told Anziano Harris and we walked over there. Two of the ladies rolled their eyes, but I walked up to them and said, "My name is Anziano Lacey, me and my companion are sharing a message for the family and how we can live together forever." While the ladies ignored me one was really interested. We talked for a while and we went over the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. She said she liked it all, but she had doubts. I told her that all doubt could be taken away through faith. She liked what I said a lot, and said that she wanted to come to church to see what it was like. It was an awesome experience! And a cool part was Anziano Harris didn't have to help me with the language at all! Too bad she's in Sassari... Just kidding!

I had a few more interesting experiences in Sassari. One young lady we stopped said that I looked like Leonardo DiCaprio... but more beautiful. I was like... Thanks..? It was funny, and a nice compliment, I'm not going to lie! Another time we were on a bus and this teen aged girl kept touching my leg! Weird stuff!

The past couple of days haven't been too exciting besides English course. I tried to introduce the Gospel to Giovanni... But I'm afraid I offended him a little because he is Buddhist and doesn't believe in Christ at all. I had no idea and I hope he comes back. At least I tried...

Other than that we are really trying to find new investigators. It's hard, but with a little prayer and hard work, it's definitely possible! Things are going good, and I appreciate all your prayers and support. I love you all so much! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg. Vi voglio bene!!!!

Anziano Clay Lacey