Wednesday, August 31, 2011

3 weeks on Sardegna!

Dear Family,

Halfway through with my first transfer! Crazy, huh?

Thank you so much for your encouraging words, and uplifting emails! I miss you all so much! It's been a very interesting week. To tell the truth, it's been a tough week, but it's had it's highs too! 

To answer your questions, yes, I finally got the DearElder, but it took forever! I think regular mail is best (but I've only gotten one letter from Mom since I've been in Italy). Anziano Vitali served two transfers in Lecce, and this is his second in Olbia. As far as the splits went, the Anziani from Sassari came on a train to Olbia for district meeting, and then after the meeting I hopped on the train with Anziano Harris and went to Sassari while Anziano Reed stayed in Olbia with my companion. 

The missionary work in Olbia hasn't been at it's best this last week. Our Indicatori Principali (Key Indicators) have been low, and we haven't found any new investigators... yet. I have been promised by leaders that there are truly people ready and prepared to enter the waters of baptism in my first area so I have faith and hope! Things with Grazia didn't pan out. We went to visit her again and she said she wasn't interested to hear about the Gospel anymore, she just likes talking to us. So that was a huge bummer, because I thought she was going to be my first new investigator through finding with my own efforts. 

We have spent a lot of time finding this past week. We found a few potentials again, but I'm looking for people that are ready, with a sure fact, to hear the Gospel. With the potentials we have now it just seems like we have to do a bunch of convincing, and that isn't what missionary work is about. I know we'll find a miracle here soon!

I love the Olbia Branch so much, but I think they are trying to kill me. They have so many activities at the church, and they love to feed missionaries. The older ladies spot you from a mile away, and if they see that you have room on your plate they will stuff a huge portion of their dish on your plate. It's great, but I swear I'm going to explode! Me and Anziano Vitali are scared we're going to get fat, so we made a pact to work effectively everyday!

The language is going alright. I for sure am not fluent yet, but it's coming along. I'm building up my confidence with talking to people, so that's good, and I'm getting much better at understanding. I created an arduous, yet productive language study plan to use everyday to get this language obstacle over with! 

Today I finally got all my papers and fingerprinting done so I can officially live in the country! It's a relief, so I think I'm going to go buy a gelato! 

Last night we went to the Branch President's house for ward council and we had dinner with him and his family, and a recent convert and a non-member. They are the Branca family, and I love them so much! President and Sister Branca joined the church six years ago, and then one by one their three sons began to join. One son, Ellessio, served in the Catania mission, and he is now our ward mission leader. He is so awesome and he helps us out a ton. Ignassio is the next son who was baptized, and he is the Elders Quorum President. He has a wife who is a non member, and they recently had a little girl named Valentina, and I swear she is the cutest baby ever! I will make sure I get some pictures of her to send to you! Ignassio believes that we can teach and help him convert his wife. Claudio is the next son and he was only baptized a few months ago after a tough time in his life. They are an awesome family, and when we eat with them at dinner out on their balcony I really feel the Italian spirit. Next p-day Ellessio is going to teach us how to cook! I'm stoked! 

Tomorrow night we leave to drive to Cagliari for my first Zone Conference. I'm excited to see the biggest city on the Island, and to see the other Anziani! I'm also excited to see President Kelly again. I'm the only greenie on Sardegna so I might get a little flack for it! :)

I apologize that there isn't very much else to write. I love being a missionary and I'm grateful to wear the Savior's name on my chest everyday. Choosing to serve a mission has been the best choice I have ever made, and it is worth every sacrifice. Thank you so much for all your support, and especially your prayers. I need them! 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 so much, but I'm so excited to cook you all some awesome Italian food in a few years! :) Love you!!!

-Anziano Clay Lacey

Friday, August 26, 2011

Over 1000 views!

As of Thursday, August 25, 2011, the blog has over 1000 views! Thank you to all of you who show interest in Clay's missionary service!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2 weeks in Sardegna!

Caro Mia Famiglia, 
Ciao, ciao! I'm sorry It took me all day to write! (And I'm especially sorry to you, Dad, if you woke up at three in the morning!). I have been in Sassari for the past few days on splits with my district leader, Anziano Harris from Rexburg. We had a great time, and it was a ton of fun being in a new, bigger city! Sassari is very old, and there is a bunch of history everywhere you walk! For example, we were walking down the street, and we were walking past a wall that got converted into apartment buildings, and then we saw a sign that said the wall was thousands of years old! It was part to some ancient castle! I love Italy, it's so beautiful. And I especially love Sardegna and being surrounded by the ocean! It will always have a special place for me since it's my first area.

Nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week besides the split! I had my second Sunday with the branch, and it was really nice because I understood them way better! They asked me questions during Sunday school and Priesthood, and I was able to answer back... Kinda. It was a ton of fun though (when you know what people are saying). There were two sisters who both served their missions in Rome, and they were touring all the places they had served, and they stopped by our branch. They gave me some advice on how to survive as a greeny!

The work is going alright! One day was really tough because we followed up with a bunch of potential investigators, but they weren't really interested anymore. I got Mom's letter the day after my last P-Day, and it was a nice booster! I still haven't got your DearElder yet though, Dad. On a happier note I got to teach a lesson with my companion to a lady we found my first week here! She liked what we had to say, but the Book of Mormon wasn't doing it for her. Next lesson I think we'll use the Spirit with us more, so we shall see. Her name is Grazia (Grace). As far as our investigator Francisco, he is making amazing progress, and we got him super excited to read the Book of Mormon. He is from El Salvador, and he really felt the Spirit as we watched The Testaments. It was amazing to see him recognize who his ancestors were, and even more exciting to see him excited to read. He is so awesome, and he will be baptized soon, just as soon as he figures out things with his girlfriend back in Milan. He's moving back there soon so we won't be able to teach him very much anymore, so I'm a little bummed, but it gives us more time to go find more people to teach!

I love Italy, but some things are so weird! From 1:30 to 4:00, everything closes down, and everyone goes home for lunch and to take naps. The cities here are like ghost towns during that time! That's when we take lunch and do language study. Another weird thing here is they don't use ice in their drinks. Some think it's bad for you! Funny, huh? I love it though, all the little quirks. 

I'm glad I'm starting to understand better because I can hold out conversations for a little while. There is a form we are supposed to speak in when conjugating our verbs that is like your speaking in 3rd person to them, as a sign of respect. It's hard to explain, but basically people get really confused because to ask some one's name in the respectful form is "Come si chiama?" Which means "What is her/his name?" and so I get a lot of funny looks since young Italians usually only speak it to the Elderly. It's fun though!

Actually, kind of a cool story, me and my companion were tracting in a neighborhood, and there was this sketchy looking man standing on the fifth floor on the balcony of his apartment in a palazzo, and I yelled "Salve!" since he was staring at us. A few days later we went back and knocked at a door and he answered (I didn't know it was him at first) and we started talking. He was super nice, and he is married and they have two little girls, one who isn't even a week old yet! He mentioned to me that I said hi to him and that he thought that was nice, and liked about what we had to say about families. We gave him The Proclamation to the World, and he asked us to stop by again. I hope all goes well with him because I've been praying to find a family to teach!
Today was a ton of fun. We drove out to the coast, and we went to Grota di Nettuno (the cave of Neptune) and explored that. It was a fun P-Day activity, and we had fun spending time together as a district. After that we whipped up some pasta (that's pretty much all we eat besides Nutella), and ordered some pizza. Then Anziano Vitali and I drove back and now I'm back here in Olbia! Anziano Reed, who was one of my Zone Leaders in the MTC is serving in Sassari, so it's been cool seeing him here in the field. Another funny thing about Italy: There aren't fast-food restaurants, but there are Pizzarias EVERYWHERE!!! It's so funny! The key is finding the good ones, but we haven't eaten out very much.

Oh, I have been extremely scared to write this, because I think Brooke is going to kill me... Francisco took us out to for pizza (he lives in the summer at Golfo Aranci, a beautiful city by the beach, check it out online), and he bought us pizza at the best pizza place in the city. He gave me a slice of this pizza that had no sauce, only cheese, some lettuce thing, tomatoes, and this strange, dark meat. I tried it and loved it! I then heard him say something about a "cavallo", which means horse. I then looked down to the pizza I was eating, and then I put two and two together... I was eating horse pizza! And it was fantastic! I know Brooke is probably missing me a lot less right now! Good news though, if we ever need to use horses as food storage, they make great pizzas! 

Reading through the Book of Mormon as a missionary is awesome. You learn way more as things begin to apply to you. I am in Alma, and It's fun being able to relate, and learn from Ammon and the sons of Mosiah. One of my new favorite stories is now the account of Alma and Amulek preaching the Gospel. Amulek had such incredible faith and trust in the Lord to leave his riches and serve God. Even when his father was against him, he endured through, and felt the joy from missionary work. And it had to be the hardest mission ever to be at the city of Ammonihah! Wicked, wicked, wicked!

Well, I still am loving my mission, and I love it more and more as I begin to learn how to communicate more and more. "Piano, Piano", is what the Italians say, which is like "step by step"- they say it a lot, especially to me as I struggle to form a sentence! I am so glad for this opportunity to serve such great people! I am truly blessed! I miss 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. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. Love, love, love you all!

Con Amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First area... The "Miracle Island" of Sardegna!

Dear Family,
I have been so excited to write you all this whole week!!!

So much has happened and I don't know where to begin! I guess chronologically:

The flights were good! Super long, but good. I didn't get one minute of sleep, so that was kind of painful! I sat next to lots of different people and had fun talking to them about the gospel, and one guy who I spoke with on the flight from London to Rome was a designer for Jaguar! He was pretty cool and I gave him the church websites to check out after his cruise.

Flying over Italy was surreal! My heart was pounding as I finally walked off the plane and hit Italian land! After weeks in the MTC, I finally made it! The weirdest thing was, all the signs, writings, etc, were all written in Italian! (Obviously). It was so cool! As we walked through the airport everyone was speaking Italian, and I assure you, It is a completely different Italian than what they taught us in the MTC! Hearing American teachers speak Italian aside from Italian native speakers is way different! But it's fun!

We waited about 15 minutes and then we saw President Kelly come in and great us. He is so awesome! He gave us each a hug, and then led us outside where the A.P.s were with a huge van. We loaded all of our luggage, and then we were off! Driving in Italy... Way different than America! Basically, it seems like there are no rules. Everyone drives all over the road, and almost every car is a little Ford Fiesta. The cars here are so tiny!
We drove for awhile and then went to the temple site. It was huge! And it was amazing to see the progress that they were making with pouring concrete for the foundations. If they keep it up then hopefully I'll be here for when it's finished! I took pictures and I'll be sure to send them. After we were done at the site, we went back on the crazy streets, and to the beautiful Mission Home Villa. We met Sister Kelly there, and she is so fun and nice! We all sat down and relaxed and had a nice time chatting about our experiences in the MTC.
 When I got my first "golden" transfer, I was so excited to see Sardegna! (that's how you spell it in Italian). It has been one of the places I wanted to serve, and it's my first area! How lucky! The Anziani call it "miracle island" apparently, so that's a little bit of a booster!

 Saying goodbye to my MTC friends was sad, but it was exciting to hear where they were going.  Anziano Barker got called to Taranto, in the very south which is where all my teachers in the MTC guessed that I would go! He's really excited and I look forward to hearing from him! I had my interview with the President and he said he is really excited to have me in his mission, and that he knows I'll be a great missionary!

Fortunately, I didn't travel alone. Another Anzaino who had been out for about 10 months already was being transferred to the Sardegna also, so we went to the train station together and waited there for 3 hours for 2 sisters who were to travel with us. The four of us took a train to Cittavechia (on the way I saw the top of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican!). The countryside is so beautiful but let me tell you, the movies only show you the REALLY beautiful parts. In the cities there is all kinds of graffiti and nasty trashy stuff. But it's so cool to come across an old building, a Roman aqueduct, or an old church or castle!

When we arrived in Cittavechia, we rode a bus to the port where our boat was to take off, we were a little late, so we literally had to sprint to catch the boat! It must have been hilarious to see 4 young adults with 2 bags of luggage each in white shirts, ties, and skirts (for the sisters, not us!) all running for a boat! We barely made it in time, but we were wiped out!

The boat was huge! It was basically a cruise ship. Anziano Shaw (the elder I was traveling with) and I had our own little room with twin sized beds and our own bathroom! It was sweet! After we dropped off our luggage, we got the sisters and we bought some gelato (I don't think I'll be able to go back to American ice cream) and enjoyed the view at night as we said goodbye to the mainland.
It was the best form of travel because all you had to do was sleep! I loved it! We arrived at Sardegna at about 6 in the morning, and I was lucky because the port was In Olbia! So I didn't have to travel much at all. At the dock I met my trainer, Anziano Lance Vitali. He is so awesome! He is from Los Angeles, and his grandpa is Italian, hence his last name. He is super young still, he's only been in Italy for 4 months! But he's a stud and I think we'll work well together.

Olbia is beautiful! Ya, it's got it's graffiti and stuff too, but the architecture and the all around beauty of the city is wonderful. I am blessed to have this as my first area!
 My "greenie" dinner was awesome. We went to a recent convert's home that was right on the beach! His name is Ivan and he is from Honduras. He lives with an 82 year old Italian woman that sort of adopted him when he came to Italy at age 9. He actually went to school for culinary arts, so he knows how to cook! He made some awesome spaghetti, and some egg-thingy. After we ate we went outside and watched the sun set as we taught them a spiritual thought. It was a great first night in the field!

The work is fun! No doubt, it's hard though. We have about 3 investigators, one who was about to be baptized, but in his baptismal interview it turns out his girlfriend still lives with him at his other house in Milan, so he will get baptized, no doubt, after he figures things out with her. We have a ton of potential investigators, and one who I think is golden. We were out tracting and hers was one of the first houses I actually tried, and she came outside and started talking to us. Her name is Gabriella, and she is super nice, but it's extremely sad because her dad just died. They are figuring things out right now, and asked us to come back in a week, so pretty soon we'll stop by and visit her again, because I know she could really use the gospel in her life now. I'm excited and please pray for her that she'll be receptive!

The Branch is fantastic! There are about 25 members, but we'll definitely boost it up! And yes, the church is only 2 doors down! The same people that own our apartment own the church too! (Our apartment is on the top floor of the little building and the church is on the bottom of the other). According to all the missionaries the dialect in Sardegna is the hardest to understand. And that is true because I understood NOTHING that the branch members said to me that first Sunday! They had me pass the sacrament, and then stand at the pulpit and give them a presentation about myself and then give my testimony. It was so much fun and I hope they understood!
Yesterday we had a fun picnic activity that the Branch from Olbia and Sassari put on. Wow, you have no idea how much they eat! They kept piling food on my plate, and I almost exploded! There were so many great foods, and some that I was a little unsure about... I ate cow heart, apparently, and some kind of weird, uncooked part of a fish... There were some really weird stuff, but I'm enjoying trying new stuff, even if it kills me!

I got to play soccer with the members yesterday, and it was a blast! I have to brag a little bit, but I scored a goal! Woo! We also went on a little hike and the members brought a bunch of non-member friends. We taught the Plan of Salvation lesson to a non-member, and even got 2 new potentials that want us to come and visit them! The Branch is so good mith missionary work!
Real quick, some weird things about Italy: They don't have dryers! Everything is hang-dried, but it's kinda cool. And on the streets people park where ever they want. Even if it blocks traffic, lovely, right? Even though there is some differences, the people are really not any different from Americans. It's a huge testimony to me that we are all God's children, and he loves us all the same. We are all the same kinds of people, generally, and it's great! There are just different languages. I think that's the only thing that separates us. It makes me sad to think how people could be racist...

Well, this is about it, I'm sure there's a lot I haven't said, but I can't remember at the moment, and I've written a novel already! I am so glad you are all doing good! Stay busy, and remember the strengthening power of prayer. I haven't got any letters yet, but it might take a little bit longer to get to Sardegna, who knows.

I want you all to know that I love my mission. I love it so much, and I'm so glad to be here! Missionary work is a lot different than I thought it was going to be, but It's great! Next week I hope to let you know about more teaching stories, since I've only had 3 lessons so far. It's been kind of a crazy week settling in and getting things done so I can live in the country.

Well, 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 I miss you all so much! Thanks for being awesome!!!

-Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Anziano Lacey in Italia!

Sono in Italia!

Well, I made it! I am currently at the Roma Villa mission home which is huge and prestigious. I guess Mussolini built it for his daughter back in the day, now the Church owns it. 

It is sorta unreal that I'm here, and I don't think it hasn't quite sunk in yet, especially because I didn't sleep on any of the flights, so I've been up for about 32 hours. Insane!!! I am getting delusional... 

I love Italy so far! I haven't seen much, but I drove on some freeways, we went to the temple site (they are pouring cement for the foundations) and then went to one of the chapels in Rome. I love my mission president and his wife! They are awesome!

Well, I got my first area... Drum roll please!!!

I am serving in Olbia on Sardegna! That really pretty island we were looking at. I'm so excited! It's about a 9 hour boat ride, all night long and I leave tomorrow night. They have rooms on the boat to sleep though. 

My address is:
Anziano Clay Lacey
Via Matilde Serao, 33
07026 Olbia, Italia

I'm so stoked! Well I don't have much time, but I love you all! It was amazing talking to 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!!! I can't wait to hear from you soon! 

-Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Last email from the MTC!!

Dear Family,

Ciao! Come state??

Sounds like everyone is doing good! Girls, have fun and work hard at cross-country camp! The work and time you put in now will show and pay up throughout this awesome season! And it doesn't hurt to seek for a little divine help for your Father in Heaven too! I've learned here that I can't do anything really without the uplifting power of prayer. If you pray and ask Padre Celeste for strength as you train, he'll either give it to you, or give you better. Heather and Greg, have fun playing Just Dance or whatever you're up to. :)

Dad- I'm glad work is going good! I look forward to visiting your new school after my mission and seeing you in action as the big man on campus! I haven't received the shoes yet so hopefully today.

I mailed a copy of my flight plans to you in the card I sent Greg, so hopefully you'll be getting that soon. I leave the MTC at about 8 in the morning and then at 11-ish I'll fly to Chicago. I'll have about a two hour lay over there, so I'll call you all then probably (I'm so excited to talk to you all! In only Italian of course! JK). From there I have the long flight across the little pond we call the Atlantic, and I'll land in London. From there I'll fly to Rome and I'll get there at about 12:45 on August 10th. AHHH I can't wait! I haven't done the math to see how long the flights are because I think I'm too scared to! Long flights!

Things are going good though! I am truly going to miss the MTC, but I can't wait to get into the field. Only 6 days left! That's no time at all. Not going to lie, I'm a little nervous, but more of for my ability with the language. It's improved, of course, but I'm still a little nervous.

Oh, I forgot to mention this in my past emails... And Dad, don't think less of me (just kiddin), but I'm in love with CALCIO! (Soccer). I've been playing it everyday for gym, and I love it! I can't wait to but an Italian jersey, GLI AZZURI! Which is the nickname for Italy's soccer team. We always play against the Russians, and it's a pretty fierce competition! When we got on the field they really don't like Italians and we really don't like Russians! They give Russian commands and we yell instructions in Italian like, "AVANTI! (Forward!). But it's all good, we're friends! :)

There really hasn't been anything too significant that has happened this week unfortunately. It's mostly just filled with study, study, study.

I guess I can move onto spiritual stuff! That's the best part! Yesterday I had the opportunity to teach my progressive investigator named Anna Frasca. She hasn't really progressed to much, but I figured it was because me and my companion weren't pretending like it was a real thing. So I decided to do something different and pretend it was real. It made all the difference. I honestly know what it feels like to have the Spirit work through you to touch an investigator's heart. I can't wait until it's real! I've never felt so overpowered by the Spirit before. All I had to do was open my mouth, and the Spirit did the rest it seemed like. And I'm not over exaggerating! The Brethren have testified that if we treat the scenarios like the real thing we will be blessed to know what it really feels like, and I honestly got that confirmation. The Church is true, no question!

Eventually I extended the invitation to be baptized, and she wants to, but she wants to read the Book of Mormon first to know for sure.

Well, that's about it in the life of Anziano Lacey! Things are great, and I'm just trying to finish out these last few days strong. I know I can be even more ready as far as the language and teaching is concerned. I think I'll have another p-day on Monday where I could possibly write you all back, but if not, I'll call you at the airports!

I love you Dad, I Love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you (birthday boy) Greg. Take care you guys! I love you with all my heart, and I can't wait to hear your voices in less than a week! Take care!


Anziano Clay Lacey