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

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