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 LDS.org 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