Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Less than 2 weeks until Italy!!!

Dear Family,

Hey guys! How are you?! Thank you so much for the package (the cookies are fantastic by the way). It was nice to have some IBC root beer too before I leave... IN TWO WEEKS!!! I can't believe it. It seems like just yesterday that I was a scared little Elder with a nice bright orange "dork-dot" on my name tag! Now I'm almost out of here! I'm really going to miss the MTC though; my teachers, my branch presidency, my friends.. But I'm soon going to embark on the real part of my mission, which is bringing the Message of the Restoration to the people of Italy! Wow, I can't wait, but I need to take it one day at a time and continue to work hard so I don't get trunky!

Dad- I'm glad work is good! Sounds like you're just "tackling" this new principle gig with ease, and using your strong leadership skills to make your school a better learning environment for the kids there. Also, I've been hearing some rumors about NASA being shut down..? I was wondering if I could get some details.

Mom- Sounds like your Utah adventure was a ton of fun and I'm sad I couldn't be there with you to enjoy the "Hobo Zoo". You have no idea how funny I thought that was! I'm glad you all had a great time and had fun hanging with the Buntings! I can't believe cross-country is starting up again! It seems like a few days ago you
just got finished with track! Super Momma is what they need to call you instead of Coach Lacey! And please... Did they do the last Harry Potter good???

Fratello e Sorelle- In about 22 months I challenge you to "Just Dance". By the time I come home though they might have some kind of virtual world you go into to play, and plus you get 2 years worth of practicing while I'm not allowed to practice my awesome dance moves, you know, with being a representative of Jesus Christ and all. I think I'd stand out in a bad way haha! I miss you all! And please... Drink. My. Hot. Kool-Aid! ;) Morgan, I'm glad camp was a great experience! Keep working hard and envision that goal in your mind about going to BYU. I'm a strong believer that you become what you think about all the time. This season, give it your all. I love the quote, "Whatever you do in life, do your best, and finish every race you enter" because "When everything says you can't, believe in the part of you who says you can." :)

Well, about my week, it was actually fairly slow compared to others!

It started out a bit rough because I let stress smack me in the face. Sorella Smith suggested that I go to Preach My Gospel and look for answers. I was reading in the first chapter of "A Successful Missionary", and she pointed out that nowhere in there does it say how good you are at the language... As long as you try your very best and dedicate yourself to the Lord, He will do the rest! Simple as that. I have finally grasped that concept now and as I've been focusing on doing the best I can do, I've notice the language coming along much better.

I've been memorizing like crazy! I'll do a list of everything I've memorized in Italian so far which is everything we've been asked to know before we leave the MTC: My purpose as a missionary, James 1:5, the First Vision, Doctrine & Covenants 4 (that was tough), the baptism invitation, and the baptismal prayer. I'm working on Moroni 10:5-6 and Alma 32:21 now since I use them all the time when I teach.

The new Anziani and Sorelle going to Italy have finished their first week so far! They are awesome and we have a ton of fun together. I'll be sure to send you pictures!

On Monday we taught an Italian lady named Lucia, and it was the best lesson I've ever taught! It was on the Plan of Salvation and we even included the Word of Wisdom (since it was the scenario) and you could really feel the Spirit. I now go each day with speaking very little English. It's my goal to go 100% Italian every day for these last few weeks, and I'm getting there! I feel I've learned so much. We got another new "investigator" named Anna Frasca, and we also taught her the Plan of Salvation. We also taught her how to pray and got her to say the closing prayer in the lesson. I know these situations aren't real, but the Spirit that you feel in them is real. I have realized that I feel the Spirit the most when I, 1. Teach, and 2. When I sing. I LOVE singing in Italian. My favorite Hymn (Inno) is an Italian Hymn called "Mandate Voci di Gioia all'Eterno." It is based off Psalms 100, and it has the most beautiful sound and It invited the Spirit like no other. I can't wait to sing it to you when I get back!

It's amazing to have the feeling of being able to recognize the Spirit more and more as I grow in the Gospel. This Church is so true. There is no denying it! Being able to bare your testimony everyday, several times a day, makes it super easy to know for a fact that these things are true.

amo voi con tutto mi cuore! (I love you all with all my heart!). I pray for your safety and well-being everyday, and I look forward to speaking to you at the airport soon! Ciao, ciao!

Con l'Amore,

-Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Less than 3 weeks left in the MTC!

Anziano Gump :-)

Elder Lacey and Elder Thorn (buddies from Apple Valley)

Clay loves his name tag!

Anziano Lacey & Anziano Angel (who sings like an angel)

Caro Mia Famiglia,

I loved reading your emails and DearElders. Thank you so much for them! Mail time is a great part of the day! This might be a bit of a boring email because it hasn't really been that eventful of a week. Time has flown by! It seems like yesterday since I was on here last writing to you and I can't think of anything to write! I have less than three weeks until I'm out of here. I am extremely excited, yet extremely nervous. I will miss my awesome teachers and the staff here at the MTC, but I can't wait to meet the people of Italy. On Monday I had the amazing opportunity to teach an older Italian woman the message of the Restoration. It was an amazing experience because it was 100% Italian and she barely knew English. She was so nice and sweet and I can't wait to meet more Italians!

Well let me clear some things up for poor Brookie. That letter from Anziano Scalese wasn't actually from him, it was from Anziano Hill. Anziano Hill wanted to play a joke on Anziano Scalese, and you were a victim, so I apologize! But you don't have to write them back, because Anziano Scalese is 20 and Hill is 19. It's weird. And again, sorry you were the victim of his prank. (And yes, Italians and Russians are huge rivals in everything from soccer to four-square).

Dad- I'm glad your conference is going good! And by the way, my shoes have 5 loop holes on each side since you wanted to know. I sent you a package in the mail on Monday so you should be getting it anytime. It has some pictures in it (the one in front of the map) and even a little surprise I think you will all like!

The language is going good! Some days get discouraging (especially when you forget simple things like the First Vision) but I just try to shrug off feelings of frustration. I keep beating myself up for not knowing enough, but my buddy Anziano Thomas keeps telling me that it's only been 6 weeks and I know this much, so that helps. I'm working on memorizing D&C 4 in Italian which is pretty long! My companionship is going great! There hasn't been a single problem for over 2 1/2 weeks, and we keep becoming closer and closer. The food is okay, sometimes awesome, sometimes not, and when it's not it messes me up (as you could imagine).

I'm glad you're having fun in Park City! I remember when we made that trip and it was so much fun! Make sure you be safe and no fair getting struck by lightening! I'm glad Morgan is enjoying the track camp! It's crazy to be so close to her. Whenever I go to gym outside I look to see if she is on a run around the MTC or something.  And yes, Anziano Barker is awesome! It was funny, I pulled my first prank yesterday. I hid in his closet and acted like there was nobody in the dorms. So when he and Anziano Thomas came home Anziano Barker started to get ready for gym and when he opened his closet I was there and he screamed (manly scream of course)! It was the funniest thing ever! I missed scaring my sisters so he had to suffice! Plus, me and him wrestle a bunch (our knees are covered in rug burns) and it makes me miss wrestling Greg!

By the way, in a little over 22 months when I get back I might have to throw a water balloon or something at Heather for one simple line she put on her letter: "P.S. I do not mean to brag, but Harry Potter was great!" Never before did such words hit me as those did to me at this time. I'm just kidding though! I'm glad it was good Heather! :)
I can't believe I only have three weeks... I think I get my travel plans in one week! Everything is happening so fast! These last few weeks I am really going to work harder and be better so that I can prepare myself to serve the great people of Italy.

I have been blessed to be taught by nearly every Italian teacher in the MTC. Usually it's just two, but Fratello Bulloch got West Nile Virus and was sick for a few weeks (not fun) and awesome teachers like Fratello Auna from Hawaii and Fratello Silva who both served in Rome came and really helped me learn a lot from other perspectives. I am really glad Fratello Bulloch is back though because he gives some awesome lessons!

Today new Elders and Sisters going to Italy come in! I am so excited to welcome them in and to help them (because teaching helps you learn the subject better). Plus, we need more Italians to stand up against the Russians! They outnumber us! It is a love-hate relationship though because some Russians here are some of my great friends now.

Well, I'm doing great! I love my mission, I love the Spirit here at the MTC, but I really have to focus these last few weeks! Let me know when you get my package because I think you'll like it!

I love this church, and my testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown. I know for a fact that it is true. I love that Book, and I will always hold it dear to me. I wish I would have taken it more seriously before my mission. I have become nearer to God by reading it, and I know that it's converting power works for anyone. It's crazy how much things about missionary work you can find in it know that I am serving in the same work as some of the great missionaries of old, namely, Ammon, Alma, Amuleck, Samuel, and many others. Do me a favor and reread the introduction on the cover. I love it! I am going to buy one English copy, and one Italian copy to hand out on the arduous plane ride to the wonderful Italia. I can't wait to get out there and preach! I'll only have 22 months left! Not enough time!

Well family, I love you. I miss you 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! You all are the best! Take care, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. I'll get back on later today to write back! Love you, love you, love you! Send everyone my love! Hoorah for Israel!!!


Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

5th letter from the MTC!

                     Anziano Lacey and Anziano Barker - Looking serious

                        Anziano Lacey and Barker - Looking normal :-) 

Anzianos Lacey, Green, & Reed

Caro Famiglia,

I know "famiglia" looks like FAM-IG-LIA, but in Italian the "gli" make a really beautiful "L" sound kinda similar to the "l's" in "million". There's your Italian vocab lesson of the week!

This week has been fantastico! I have seriously loved every second of it, and I've been studying so much material that I find it's hard to fit everything into one day! I wish there were more hours to the day!

Dad, have a great day of work! I'm excited for you! Let me know how it goes! Sounds like you all had a fun time at the beach! I miss the beach... Now I regret not going before I left! And yes, pretty soon I'll be sending more pictures, and can you change my scripture for the plaque? Instead of just D&C 14:7 I want D&C 14:7-8. Verse 8 spices it up a bit!  It's going to kill me to know that you are in Provo, Morgan!   Maybe I'll run into you! What are your plans in Park City? Make sure you drive safe! And tell the Buntings I said Ciao! (Sounds like "chow" and means hello and bye-bye).

I see Elder Thorn all the time, and he actually lives in the same building as me, just a floor above! If he ever needs to talk or needs some advice about MTC, companions, ect, he heads down and we talk. It's awesome seeing friends as missionaries! Brooke, I'm glad you had a great time at efy! And please send some pics! I don't mind hearing about your "c.o.w.s"!

I would ask how Transformers 3 was, but I don't know what movies are anymore. The only thing that rings a bell when I hear "movies" is The Restoration, The Testaments, District 2, and Legacy. Over, and over again. But if you'd like to keep a list of the so called "movies" I should watch when I get back would be awesome! Haha I miss you guys!

As far as my shoes, I love them! There are no problems with them and I think they will be perfect for Italy! Oh, and you don't have to send packages anymore, I feel bad when I see the price tag of how much it costs written on it! Thank you so much though! Just reading your words is the best!

Heather, Greg, and Mom, what were your favorite rides at Holiday World? Did any of you get your world rocked by The Voyager I think it was called? And Morgan, I don't think you have to worry about writing Anziano Barker cause I'm pretty sure he's writing you today! So you'll have it by the time you get back from track camp. His address is the same as mine except the name; his is Elder Robbie Barker.

Well about my week:

I'm trying to remember some details but a lot of the days kinda blend together at this point! I think I'll start bringing my journal with me when I type so that I can remember!

It's interesting because in my personal studies the topic I've been working on is self-mastery. I was flipping through the Topical Guide one day and the Self-Mastery section stood out to me so I've been studying those scriptures and applying them in my life.

I've been super busy. Besides my hours of language study I've started reading the New Testament, continued studying the Book of Mormon, and I've also started the Doctrine and Covenants. I also have hundreds of flashcards in my pocket to take with me everywhere so I'm always productive. I'm on the Lord's time, and two years isn't very long so I'm trying to make every second count.

I want to share something with you that was a huge confidence booster for me. And I don't share it to boast of myself (because "I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things" Alma 26:12) but to share it because it was meaningful to me:

There is a man in the branch presidency named Brother Lamrouex (I think that's how you spell it). He was a Col. in the army, and a really high ranking one at that! This whole month I thought he disliked me because everything I did, he would correct me and it seemed like I did everything wrong in his eyes. On Sunday we had the half-way point interviews, and I was nervous to be stuck with him (because I thought he was going to chew me out).
 We got into the interview and he asked me to say a prayer in Italian, so I did. When I finished he asked me how my Italian was coming along and I replied with, "eh, okay I guess." He told me that my vocabulary and my pronunciation were very good, above average of the usual missionary at this point in the MTC. That meant so much to me and helped me switch my mentality of "I stink at Italian" to "I can do this, I'm good at Italian." He also told me to focus my learning on the people of Italy, and that if I learn it for them, instead of myself, I'll learn it so much quicker.

He also told me that the presidency was really happy with me, and that I was their first choice for zone leader, next to Anziano Barker. He said that although it wasn't their final decision, they know that the people in the leadership positions are there for a reason, and that I'm with my companion for a reason. He said he sees that I've been born of goodly parents, a good Latter-Day Saint, and that he sees in me great potential. That's when it clicked that this man cared for me, and when he was correcting me, it was out of care for me to become better. I was too quick to judge, and I have to work on that.

Well those were the highlights! My prayers have been answered, all the way from strengthening my companionship, to your guy's safety. I feel the Lord's hand in my life, and recognizing the Spirit is getting easier and easier as the days go by.

I can't wait for Italy. As teachers talk about their experiences, as I meet the Italian natives in the MTC, and as I focus on learning this language for them my love for their culture and people grow. And I haven't even been there yet!

I miss you all so much! Sometimes it feels like forever since I've seen you last, but other times it feels like just yesterday. I am doing well, I love love love love my mission!!! I want to be in Italy already, but I know the training is extremely important now.

I love you Dad. I love you Mom. I love you Morgan. I love you Brooke. I love you Heather. I love you Greg. You all are my favorite people ever, and words cannot express my love for you, so I hope serving this mission shows my love for both Heavenly Father and you guys. Take care, and remember you are always in my prayers. I thank you for the prayers for me. Send my love to everyone: our family, friends, and the ward. I love you!


Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th Letter from MTC!

Caro Famiglia,

Ciao! Come va? I'm glad to hear you are all doing so good and made it home from back East safely! It was fun reading about all of your adventures in Nauvoo and last night a member of the Seventy, Cree-L Kofford (who reminded me a lot of grandpa) spoke to us about feeling the Spirit and he had just returned from Nauvoo with his family so it was nice hearing about the Spirit he felt there. Thank you so much for the Dear Elders. I know I don't have time to write you all back individually yet, but just hearing about your days is so much fun. And thank you so much for making the blog! I can't see it, but I'm sure it's so awesome! And yes, you should make one too!

It's funny, I have a total of three family pictures that are always visible. There's one by my bed, one by my desk, and then another on my mini binder I carry around everywhere I go. Everyone in the zone loves looking at the picture because they think we are such an awesome family. Anziano Barker loves to hear me talk about you guys. He has said multiple times how much he loves our family, even though he hasn't met you all yet. His parents are divorced, and he is the only child so seeing our family, he says, is refreshing for him. It makes me feel so lucky and blessed to have you all in my life!

Well I'm doing great! I've had a really good week, filled with spiritual moments, ups and downs, and of course, lots and lots of Italian!

I have really been focusing a lot on Preach My Gospel this week. My teacher, Fratello (Brother) Bulloch has helped realize the importance of setting goals, and not just "to do" goals, but also "to be" goals- which are my favorite. I love my teachers! They are such a blessing to me, and they are exactly the kind of people I need to teach me at this time. My other teacher is Sorella (Sister) Smith, and she speaks to us in only Italian. The first few weeks were tough, but I'm starting to understand her more. She teaches us concepts in the morning (which I barely understand) and then Fratello Bulloch comes in the evening and does review to help us understand it better. They are both amazing teachers and I am truly blessed.

Not going to lie, you creeped me out about knowing that I prayed on Sunday! It was really funny! Our zone was assigned to help with the mission conference on Sunday, and I'm not sure who decided, but I was picked to give the opening prayer. It was cool, but no biggie since I had already prayed in an even bigger meeting back at BYU-I. And unfortunately Elder Oaks didn't speak that night, but it was his daughter (who is one of the best violinists in the world) who spoke and performed multiple songs for us. It was really cool hearing her talk about how her talent helped her build the Kingdom of God, and I had an epiphany and saw myself on a busy and crowded movie set, calling together the cast and crew as we bowed our heads in prayer before we began filming. It got me thinking, but I still have lots of time to decide what I want to do for a career!

July 4th was fun, but was different without you. We had a celebration when we had a speaker who had been an advisor to several presidents come talk to us on the importance of America in the Restoration of the Church, and then there was a flag ceremony for all the countries all over the world. My friend, Anziano Angel (who sings like an angel, no lie) got to hold the Italian flag and it was neat as a power point showed where this "Great and Marvelous Work" had influence all over the world. After that the mission presidency invited us all outside to watch the Stadium of Fire's firework show, and it was fun doing something out of the norm since days can get a bit repetitive! It was a ton of fun though, but I wish you all could have been watching the fireworks with me. Did you do anything exciting?

I am so excited for Ish! Wow, when I read that in the Dear Elder it was a spiritual punch in the gut (that felt good)! I will pray for him!

It was funny, during study time on Sunday I too got on and watched Elder Rasband's talk! The other elders in my district were talking about the missionary call system so I referred them to that talk. On Sunday I also had the opportunity to bless the Sacrament for the first time in Italian! It was beautiful! Also on Sunday when I was doing my service for the week (cleaning up chairs after devotionals) I saw President Sanchez who was the mission president of the San Bernardino mission! He is serving in one of the branch presidencies here, and we had a nice chat. He gave me some great insight and pointers for my mission.

I have felt that I have really grown this past week. I've been focusing more on an eternal perspective of things as I've really studied Il Piano di Salvezza (the Plan of Salvation). I have grown a stronger testimony of the Savior's Atonement, and I have received some strong personal revelation regarding my Patriarchal Blessing and learning things about it that I've never once realized before. Let me show you a quote that Fratello Bulloch showed me that I read everyday, and strive to live by everyday:

"I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The dye has been cast, I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I AM A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST. I won't look back, let up, slow down or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power. My pace is set, my gate is fast, and my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go until He comes, give until I drop, preach all I know and WORK UNTIL HE STOPS ME. And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. MY BANNER IS CLEAR!"

-Elder Henry B. Eyring

Reading this quote brings tears to my eyes. Not sad tears, but tears of confidence, not in myself, but confidence in Christ. With Him, I know I can do anything, and become the missionary I dream to be. I'm sorry the quote is really long, but I've never had words hit me so deep before. I will read this quote everyday so I know what I have to become, and to visualize my goals in myself. This quote is not only applicable to missionaries, but to everyone striving to be a better follower of Christ.

Thank you so much for your love, support, and prayers. I miss you all so much, but I know that serving this mission is the best thing I could ever do. I love you all with all my heart. 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 am the most blessed individual in the world to have you all as my family. Take care, and I look forward to hearing from you throughout the week! I'll be sure to try to get back on again today to write again if I have time.

I Love you!

-Anziano Clay Lacey