Wednesday, June 29, 2011

3rd Letter from the MTC!

Hey Family!

Thank you for the emails and Dear Elders! It is so much fun to read about your daily adventures! And don't worry about the length of the emails, longer the better. I just print them off in the morning so I can read them through out the day. And yes, I think i can get pictures on here.

Nauvoo sounded amazing! I'm so happy that you all had a wonderful time and were safe! I loved reading about all the events and I'm a little jealous of it all! How did all the youth handle not having cell phones or iPods?

Mom, Heather, and Greg, I'm glad you are all having a blast back east! What a great time to bond and have fun as a family. Perfect vacation!

Wow, what a week. To say the least my heart is full! My testimony has sky-rocketed, and the Spirit that I've felt has brought me an immense amount of joy! Let me start off with my Apostle experience:

As you know, it has been the mission president seminar this weekend, and they closed off two-thirds of the biggest building on campus for the new presidents and the Apostles. I was a little selfish in my personal prayers because I asked for a very specific thing: to shake an Apostle's hand. In the building there was a point in the hallway that is closed off by a rope with two guards to make sure people didn't get through. I loved this spot because I would always try to catch a glimpse of a General Authority, and I'm afraid the rest of the Elders in my district were getting annoyed with my enthusiasm to try to meet a special witness of Jesus Christ (and I was annoyed with their lack of enthusiasm). One particular time I was 'Apostle Seeking' I looked down the hallway and I saw a man sitting on a couch wave to me. I didn't recognize him at first until he walked down the hallway and a crowd of missionaries gathered around me. It was Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!!! He came to the huge crowd of missionaries and greeted all of us with smiles and handshakes. My prayer was answered! I was so happy and I felt like die-hard Twilight fan meeting Robert Pattinson! I thanked my Heavenly Father!

I continued to be a little selfish in my prayers... This time I asked for the opportunity to see a member of the First Presidency. Yes, I specifically said 'see'. Looking back on it now I wish I would have asked to meet one of them!

As I was walking across the street from having my gym time out in the field I saw a few missionaries waving to a car. Right then and there I knew it was a general authority so I sprinted to their spot and saw, with my own eyes, President Uchtdorf in the back seat of his car with his wife! He rolled down the window, waved at us, then gave a mighty roar of excitement. I was only 20 feet from him! I was bummed that I wasn't in missionary attire, but I was wearing my Italy shirt so I'm sure he could assume where I was going. Wow, it was insane though!

That night we were all anxiously waiting for the special devotional that would take place. Me and my district got there very early in order to get good seats. We finally beat the crowd in and had seats as close to the podium as we could get (since the mission presidents got the good seats). While waiting for the devotional to begin we started singing "Hope of Israel"... and then the doors opened. In walked Elder Bednar, Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks, Elder Scott, Elder Holland, Elder Anderson, Elder Ballard, and President Rasband. We all stood as they walked in to the room with their wives.

Elder Bednar spoke on becoming a 'Preach my Gospel' missionary, and I loved every second of his talk.

It was such an amazing experience. I love the Apostles, and I have a testimony and know for a fact that these men are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. Just by feeling their Spirit I know it to be true.

On Monday me and my companion had the opportunity to practice teach a man from Naples who grew up there and barely knew English. His name is Salvatore, and it was really spiritual to teach him the Plan of Salvation in his native language. Especially since he got baptized last Saturday and has known about the church for a month! I know the Gift of Tongues is real, and it is blessing me so I may go out and cry repentance to the Italians! Also, the older Anziani left, so now my district and the other district are the only Italians for the next 3 weeks!

During difficult times I turn to 2 Nephi 4. In this chapter, Nephi has hit rock bottom with the burdens and trials placed upon him. His father Lehi has just passed away, and his brothers are again plotting to kill him. Please read this chapter whenever you have a rough time. Nephi promises himself that he will never give into temptation and yells, "Awake my soul! And give no room for the enemy of my heart." He also promises himself to always turn himself to God, always trusting in the Lord. I have had similar feelings as Nephi in this chapter this week, and please read it to feel what I have felt and let us apply the principles taught in our own lives.

Monson is a prophet of God who, along with his Apostles, commune with our Heavenly Father to receive revelation for Jesus Christ's church. I love my Savior with all my heart and words cannot describe how thankful I am for the blessings I am given, when I feel I don't deserve them. I know missionary work is a divine work, and that being a missionary is literally being a representative of Jesus Christ. I am humbled for this opportunity to serve Him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, Amen.

I love you all!

-Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2nd Letter from MTC!

Anziano Lacey (right) with MTC companion and roommates

Anziano Lacey with roommate Anziano Barker

Anziano Lacey with MTC companion Anziano Decker

Anziano Lacey and District

Hey guys!

Thank you so much for the amazing letters and the package. I loved reading about how you all are doing, and I'm a little jealous of the water balloon fight! I have very limited time to write, but when I'm in the field I will personally write everyone back. So for now I'll just do a general thing.

Things are still great! It's hard to believe it's been two weeks, but then again sometimes it feels like I've been here forever and that this is all I know how to do. I'm worried that I'm a little too green to be saying that already! But it never gets old and waking up every morning and putting on that name-tag makes me feel so energized and excited, more than any energy drink could. There's nothing like the feeling of being a missionary. The happiness you get from it is addicting, and I'm not even out in the field converting yet which is where the real happiness comes from! I can't wait!

Just to answer a few questions, yes, I would love for you to start a blog! That would be amazing. I will be sending a few pictures today so you can choose a few to scan and put on or whatever you want. As far as the plaque goes, I don't really care. I'll take some more pictures this week by myself and then send them to you on Wednesday and you can see what you like best. It would be cool to have a picture of me wearing my awesome "ANZIANO LACEY" badge with "GESU CRISTO" right below my name! The food here... wow... where do I start... Two days ago I had the worst stomach ache ever and even went to see the nurse. She gave me some pills and I've been clogged up since then. Hopefully I will need to go to the bathroom soon, and when I do, it will be glorious. So basically, the food is pretty nasty. Occasionally I'll get a good meal; one that doesn't try to kill me. I just pretend I'm eating the food I'll be eating in a few months!

Sisters, and Greg, I'm glad you are all doing good! Reading your own hand writing was fantastic! I'm happy for you all that you're finally out of school! Exciting stuff! Morgan and Brooke, have fun with Nauvoo! You're going to have such a wonderful experience! Sunday night I watched "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" and I felt the Spirit so strongly as I gained a stronger testimony of the message I will be sharing with the Italians. You're going to have so much fun, and make sure you make the most of it. Soak it all in and write down all your impressions. Heather and Greg, have fun at Grandma and Grandpa's! I'm excited for you two to have the chance to spend time with them in beautiful Indiana. By the way, so many of my missionary friends check out my photo album to get a glimpse of the Lacey sisters! And about 5 of them are serious about Morgan and/or Brooke writing them! I'll send pictures today so you can see who these guys are. And Heather, sorry, you're too young, cause if they mentioned writing you, I'd have to kill them.

I had a quick question: Dad, just a reminder, could you cancel my Xbox Live account? I would hate to be charged for 24 months! Thanks!

Mom and Dad, thanks so much for the jerky and blueberries! I had to hide them from my roommates because they wanted to eat them so bad! And thank you for the Dear Elder letters. Your encouraging words mean so much to me! I'm happy you both are off and get to enjoy a nice vacation now!

Well I guess you want to here about my experiences:

It has been an awesome week! There has been some ups and downs, but mostly ups! I could vent about negative things, but I've learned that there's no point and to just forget about it.

Nothing too exciting happened this week, but there has been a few things that have really stood out. A few days ago Anziano Barker asked me to give him a blessing of comfort, and it was a huge testimony builder as I simply opened my mouth and the Spirit filled my words. I can't wait until I can start doing that in Italian!

During sacrament meeting on Sunday the handicap Elders who are serving their missions in the MTC joined us Italians. I decided to sit with them and it was a wonderful opportunity to converse with them and feel their special spirits. I see these Elders around campus and I consider them my close friends. After the meeting President Johnson (my Branch President) came up to me, shook my hand, and said, "Anziano Lacey, you are doing a good job. I can see it in your face." Those simple words meant so much to me, especially since that's what I'm striving for in being a representative of Jesus Christ.

As far as the language goes, it's getting better, but it's still tough! I've learned not to get discouraged when other people are advancing faster, and that I'll learn it in my own due time if I keep working hard and be obedient. I can now teach the first lesson in Italian! It's not very good, but it's getting there!

On Sunday night's devotional we sang a revised version of "Called to Serve" that sounded like Helaman's 2,000 Stripling Warriors marching into battle. It wasn't Helaman leading us, but as we were singing it was President Brown's 2,000 Stripling Warriors marching into battle across the nations. I don't think I've ever felt the spirit so strong when singing!

Well, I love you all! I pray for you every time I get down on my knees, and I miss you 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. Send grandma, grandpa's, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends my love! Be safe, and take care. God be with you!

A Presto,

Anziano Lacey

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

1st Letter from the MTC!

Dear Family,

Hey guys! How are you doing??? I miss you all so much! I’m doing well! Actually, I’m doing fantastic! I love the MTC! I love everything about it! I just thought I’d first start out by saying thank you for the letters and thank you for the package! I was also wondering whether or not you got the letter I sent you on Thursday? Now, I bet you’ve all been waiting to hear about my week so far:

The plane ride was great! I sat next to a really nice lady who was an actress from Claremont. She was a non-member and was visiting her relatives who were members in Idaho. We had a really nice chat the whole plane ride. The plane was SUPER tiny. I’ve never seen a commercial plane so small, but it got me to Salt Lake safe and on time. My shuttle left way early at 9:15 and I was with another Elder who was a convert going to Chile. We were both a little nervous but excited to get to the MTC. When I arrived I was really early so I toured the whole MTC. It was a surreal feeling as they gave me my name tag and I saw “Anziano Lacey” and the Savior’s name over my heart. I really started feeling like a missionary then!

By the way, I’m the only guy in my district with a picture of my family! Isn’t that crazy! Other guys have their girlfriends, but no one has a photo album or a simple picture! Just thought you’d all like to know since I love you guys more!

The “Italians” or Zone 33 are so cool! We are seriously the most spirited group on the MTC campus! We have so much fun together, and the MTC Presidency tells us how important we are for going to Italy at this time. Also, Morgan and Brooke, one of my Zone leaders might be a potential writing candidate! He is from Palm Springs and he is such a cool dude! I hope he’s my companion sometime in the field.

I am making some lifelong friends here! One of my roommates, Anziano Barker, reminds me a lot of Ryan from back at college. We get along great and we always joke around and he studied Italian before so he helps me out a bunch!

Actually, 5 out of the 11 people in my district studied Italian before they came out into the field. It was discouraging at first, studying with a bunch of people who knew so much, but I have gained such a strong testimony that the Savior helps each of us out in his own way. I can already pray in Italian, bare my testimony, and I’ve almost got the 1st discussion down. It’s been tough, but I’m studying my butt off! I have such a strong desire to learn this beautiful language so I can lift up my voice to the Italian people. It truly is a beautiful language. Hearing it and learning to speak it is honestly more of a pleasure than a burden. Learning the language and dealing with people has been extremely difficult, but it makes the experience that much sweeter! It is really cool too cause I have my own copy of the Book of Mormon in Italian!

It’s crazy how much I have changed. I can feel my patience and maturity slowly develop into a man’s level. There are some extremely negative people surrounding me but I’m not letting any of that get to me. I love my experience here, and I look forward to the upcoming weeks to prepare myself to be a better member of the Lord’s Army to bring forth His Marvelous Work.

Last night the Primary General President, Rosemary Wixon, spoke to us missionaries. We sang a revised version of “I hope the call me on a mission” to “I’m glad they called me on a mission”. It was fun to sing and it reminded me of my primary days. Next week the Prophet and Apostles will be walking around the campus since they will be calling the new mission presidents. Pray for me that I will have the opportunity to speak with them! My love and appreciation for them has grown even more as I learn more about their teachings on a daily level.

One suggestion: I heard that is free if your missionary is in the MTC, plus if you guys used that they just print it off here and give it to me the day of. So I thought it would be cool if we could try it! I would love to hear from you guys often, but I will only respond on Wednesdays, since that’s my P-day (and I’m going to listen to the rules! Because obedience is the key to success!). And it doesn’t matter how much you all write in emails because I can just print them off, think of what to say, and then log back onto my email to write back with the remainder of my time.

I love you all so much. I miss you more than you know and I say a prayer for each of you every night. Sometimes in Italian! 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. I thank you for your prayers! You guys mean the world to me and I appreciate you all so much more now that I have very limited contact with you. I love you all with all my heart and I thank God every day that I was blessed to be a part of this family. Take care, and send my love to family and friends! Anziano Lacey is loving life as a missionary, and it’s only going to get better from here!   

Io se che la questo chiesa a vera. Io se che Joseph Smith e un profeta de Dio, e Thomas S. Monson e un profeta moderno vivente. Il Libro di Mormon e vera e un libro potente. Dio e il nostro Padre celeste e noi siamo i soui figli. A questo cosa nel nome di Gesu Cristo, Amen. (It isn’t perfect or gramatically correct but it’s getting there!).   

A Presto,

Anziano Lacey


This is a Blog for Elder Clay Lacey, Missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Serving in the Italy Rome Mission, June 2011 to June 2013.

Elder Lacey's family will include emails and pictures from him in this blog.

We hope you enjoy!