Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's Officially Transfer #2!‏

Dear Fam,

Questo è trasferimento numero due! It's crazy how fast this has all flown by and I can't believe that it's been over six weeks in Italy. This has been a great week, full of some "highs" and unfortunately a little "lows", but I've learned a lot from these lows and have become a lot closer to my Heavenly Father because of it. 

The Tache family is doing great. They are progressing well, and staying true to the commitments we give them and when Iona prays, you can really feel the Spirit. A few days ago she thanked us for finding her and said that never in all her seven years living in Olbia has she felt a love that we brought as we've been teaching her these last few weeks. It was really touching and my love for them has grown tremendously as I've seen a very apparent change in their lives. Iona has even found people that she felt she has hurt in some way throughout her years and apologized to them for any harm she has caused anyone. It is extraordinary to see how the Spirit works. Ionel loves the Book of Mormon. He reads passages, and accounts to us all he has learned from it with great enthusiasm. They love the gospel so much that they try to invite friends to come to activities. They had a friend come to family home evening with the branch, and they brought their daughter, Roberta, to one of our lessons and now she is also interested in the church and is one of our investigators. 
There is so much more to share about the Tache's, but I'll just say that this is an extremely tough situation, and I'm praying with all my might that the Lord will prepare a way. I know He will; it might not be in the time I would like, but in His own due time. This is the lesson I've learned from this situation. It is easy to get sad and discouraged when things get tough, but I know that this is a test to see how well I keep my hope as high as it was when I first met them. If there is anything going for me as far as being a good missionary I'd say it was having hope, so that's what I'm going to keep doing: have hope, hope, hope. 

This has been an awesome week though! On Sunday I gave my first talk in Italian, so that was fun, and then after church we headed to Sassari because the Madrid, Spain Temple president, President Tenney, and his wife were spending the day with all the members of northern Sardegna, and teaching lessons, giving talks at church, etc. It was such a fun activity, and there was some amazing food! I talked to President Tenney for awhile, and then his wife sat next to me for the lunch. We talked for a long time and had me do a little bit of translating for her since she only spoke English (they are form Utah) and Spanish. After the lunch we cleaned up and the Tenney's taught us an amazing lesson. It was cool to hear them teach in English, and to see the two Italians translate right on the spot. I learned a lot (of spiritual stuff) and was able to pick up some new vocab from the lesson. During it I sat next to a non-member who was invited by a member, and I felt bad for him because he went to church for the three hours, and then another three hours for the activity. I hope it didn't scare him away!

It's fun to talk to Italians about movies. It's sad that I know more vocab for movies than I do for a dinner table! When people ask what I want to get into and I say film making, they think it's the coolest thing ever. Almost every conversation about movies ends in them asking me what my first name is, and then they repeat "Clay Lacey" a few times and say, "That is a perfect name for a director!" I tell you this because it happens almost every other week - It's awesome! I also found out that Stephen Spielberg was just recently in Sardegna about a month or two ago! Dang, I missed him!

I guess I like seafood now. I ate salmon pasta, and loved it, and then the Tache's gave us a ton of shellfish that they caught, and a member showed us how to cook it so therefore we had shellfish pasta, and I loved that. Alessio talks about cooking us octopus the next time we're over, so I'm a little worried about that! 

So I think yesterday was one of, if not, the best day I've had in Italy so far. The Branca's live in a smaller town about 45 minutes away called Calangianus. Since we had ward council meeting there, we decided to go there the whole day and proselyte. I was way pumped, because whenever we go there people just stare at us because they've never seen us before. It was a great day! As we walked around the city, it finally hit me that I was in Italy. When you think of a classic Italian town, Calangianus
Calangianus - 9/27/11
  Calangianus - 9/27/11
This next story is my favorite. We knocked on this one door and the lady living there was atheist. When we asked her if she knew anyone else who would be interested she referred us to her neighbor across the street. We knocked on their door and gave our usually 'speech', and she asked if we could visit her sister who was feeling really sick. We went into the house and this woman was laying on the couch, very sick, but very calm. Her name was Madalaina, and I felt the Spirit so strong as we were with her in that room. It was just... peaceful. She was so happy to see us, and we taught her a mini first lesson, but shared with her scriptures on hope also. She and her sister both wanted copies of the Book of Mormon, and we will return to see how they are doing. It's hard to describe how it was, but all I can really say is that it was peaceful, calm, and quiet. I personally felt Christ's love for her. We ran into a few more neat people, and we looked forward to every week doing one day of work in Calangianus, and then the next city closer, Tempio. We know we will find ready people to grow the church in Sardegna! We also had an amazing lunch and dinner with the Branca family yesterday, but I might explode with how much pasta I've eaten! 
Things are great here, and I think this is a great start for this next transfer! Even if we don't get the baptism on the eighth, that's okay, it's not about the numbers. Nowhere in Preach My Gospel does it say anything about being a successful missionary to the amount of baptisms you get, it all depends on how hard and diligent you work. I do want baptisms with all my heart though ;) 

I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, I love you Greg. Thank you for everything you do, and have a great week! Vi voglio bene! Vi amo! 

Con amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last week of 1st Transfer!

Dear Family,

I'm sorry it's taken me awhile to write! We had a crazy fun P-day. One of our members took us on a hike. The area was about 3 hours south, almost to Cagliari. The hike was beautiful and we finished at this beautiful, rocky beach. It was a great day!

It's been a pretty good week! Nothing too exciting has happened, except that we got the call from the assistants that Anziano Vitali and I will be serving another transfer together in Olbia! I'm excited, and I know we can get a lot done this next transfer. While on the phone with one of the assistants, he told us that they shared the story of us getting two baptismal dates on the first lesson with our Area Seventy, Anziano Gérald Caussé, and he loved the story and apparently was joking about taking me and Anziano Vitali on a tour around Europe to teach missionaries how to teach a lesson zero. So that was pretty cool that a General Authority knows about us!!! 

As far as an update on Investigators: The Tache family is making great progress. They are really trying hard to be ready for their baptismal date (which is now October 8th). We taught them the Word of Wisdom and they are trying their best to stop smoking. A funny story to go along with it, not long after we taught them the lesson, Ionel was walking to go buy some cigarettes, but he ran into us on the street so he didn't. When he went again to go buy some, every bar near their house was out of cigarettes (nearly everyone in Italy smokes). It was funny as he told us the story and he said that God is really helping him out! Also something cool, it looks like we might be baptizing them in the Sea! :) 

We were supposed to have a lesson with Gabriella but she called us and said that something else came up, but she wants to meet with us again soon, but we don't have a set time. We will probably call her tonight to make an appointment. 

We had a lesson with Ritta, the older lady that me and Anziano Reed found on our split, and it went terrible. We had to bring a member with us since she was alone, and at first the lesson was going good, but the member kept bringing up profound principles that need to be discussed in a later lesson. It pretty much turned into a Bible bash between him and her after that, so needless to say, we didn't get a return appointment. We will visit her again and try to fix things and bring a member who is a returned missionary! 

Lately Anziano Vitali and I have been working on bringing less actives back to church, especially since a lot of them have part member families. For example, Giuseppe, who we went hiking with, has been out of the church for years because of a bad experience in the past, but during that time he got married and has two kids, one who is at baptism age. They are a great family, and hopefully we will know what to do to get him, and then his family, interested in the Gospel. It will happen soon!

I guess before I came into the Olbia there was a huge fight in the branch, and one family went kind of inactive. The family still goes to church off and on, but the dad is not active at all. He left the church years ago, and used to even be a branch president in Nuoro. We went and visited them a few days ago, and I loved their family! They have three little kids, and they are so much fun! Me and the dad became instant friends because of our love for movies (my knowledge of movies is working well with my missionary tasks), and his favorite movie is also Forrest Gump! After the visit Anziano Vitali said that he had never been this way with the missionaries before, so I hope that this could be a start to his journey back to the Church. And also a start to the mending of whatever damage was caused by this fight. 

Oh! Cool story, we had a sweet yet back breaking service opportunity this past week. This old man asked us to work in his vineyard! It was really interesting. The Anziani from Sassari came with us, and it was only supposed to be for two hours, but for some reason Anziano Harris wanted to stretch it out to six. Of course the old man was way for it since he was getting free labor from us! It was a long day, and my back was way sore from bending over and cutting vine after vine, but it was fun and reminded me of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard found in the Bible. He gave us a ton of grapes, but I don't really like Italian grapes too much because even the smallest grape has about 2-3 seeds in it. They are nice and sweet though! I'll email you some pictures once I get them off of Anziano Vitali's camera. 

Another cool story, my very first day in Olbia we stopped this guy on the street named Giovanni, he told us to come by his house, but in the weeks after we could never find his house. We ran into him at a bus stop, and he was way excited to see us! It turns out that he lives in a city just outside of Olbia, so we plan on calling him and visiting him soon. This is perfect because our branch needs priesthood holders! 

Oh, it looks like I won't have to worry about a jacket! My companion is really big on fashion, and his parents bought him this super nice, expensive jacket that he thinks looks way too big on him, so he gave it to me! It is one of those two jackets in one deals that has the rain coat part on the outside, and this warm, pea-coat looking jacket on the inside. It also works perfect for wearing a suit coat underneath. Since I didn't need to buy one, I think I'm just going to save up all the money I would have spent and buy a nice, expensive, tailored Italian suit at the end of my mission!  

Well, this is the update for the week! Things are going great, and I'm happy to have another transfer in Olbia! Amazing things are going to happen this next transfer, I can feel it! Thank you all so much for all your support and prayers. I love you all so much! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, I love you Greg. Take care and have a fantastic week!

Con Amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Thank you so much for the emails! It was so nice hearing from you all and I'm glad you are all doing good!

This has been quite the week, again! And I have based this whole week on hope (speranza). Wow, I love being a missionary.
Anziano Lacey and Diego
The Tache family is doing great! We meet with them almost everyday, and they are really progressing towards their baptismal date. They participated in FHE with the branch and Thursday night, and then came to church on Sunday! Oh, and I spelled their names wrong- It's Iona and Ionel. My bad! The branch was welcoming, especially this family that was on vacation from Milan. They were talking for awhile and it was a blessing they were with us for a few weeks! Iona even participates and has awesome, heartfelt comments to say during lessons. It's so great to see the change in her!

As a little side note I finished the Book of Mormon on Saturday for the first time as a missionary, and it's definitely true (I checked, haha). 

We have been doing a lot of house to house this week! The people that we find that are a little interested usually just ask us to stop by another time, but I am so sick of stopping by over and over and over again with them not being home, so I don't stop until we get a set return date, or a phone number! My companion hates getting numbers for some reason, but I have found a lot of success in it because we set a few dates to come back and teach! One of these is Ritta, and lady that reminds me a lot of Grandma Rosemary. She is super nice, and I look forward to seeing her on Friday. Italians are so funny at the door. When they find out that you're missionaries, they throw their hands up in the air, and slowly back up into their homes (like you have a gun at them) and say, " No, No, NO, NO!" I think it's hilarious! We have fun, and it makes the nice people you meet seem so much nicer! Nearly everyone thinks we are Jehovah Witnesses, so we have to make it clear that we are totally different, and then they usually listen pretty good. One day we were doing this street, and it turned out that a group of J.W.'s had already got it about an hour before, but we didn't give up and even found two more potentials! We have found a lot this week, and it's all about turning them into investigators now!

Well, I got good news. I can officially say that I speak Italian! I mean, it's not near perfect yet, of course, but this week I have definitely been blessed with the Gift of Tongues. On Sunday we had a huge lunch at the church, and there was a man who is a man named Salvatore who left the church. His wife and family are still super active, and he only goes to the activities with food (imagine that)! Well, for about 30 minutes straight we had a conversation in Italian about movies, actors, and all that other stuff I love, and I didn't even realize it until I said bye to him, It was awesome, and I hope that I am building a trust with him so he can come back to church! 
 Also, at FHE, I really wanted to practice my Italian, so I found the person that was hardest to understand (the man from Milan on vacation) and I talked to him for awhile. They have some crazy accents up north, but surprisingly I understood him well enough to get most of what he was saying. He was born partially paralyzed and he worked hard has a kid to get the strength and ability he needed to serve a mission. He served in Rome about 20 years ago, and he is a great man! 

Well I want to get to my favorite parts of the week. Do you remember that lady we met, Gabriella? We found her the first week I was here, and her dad had died about a month before we came. Well, almost everyday since then we tried to stop by and see her with ZERO luck. She was never home! I had been hoping, with all my heart that we would begin teaching her soon. I felt that she was so prepared, and I thought that everything was going to be perfect, but she seemed to disappear. On Sunday night my companion said that this was going to be the last time we'd stop by. Well guess what, she was there! We taught her the first lesson on a porch in her backyard (she has a huge house and property for living in Italy) and it went great. She asked a great question regarding the Book of Mormon: Is there anything in this book that can help me with the death of my father? It was a beautiful question, and we answered it the best we could on the spot with some verses, and then we said we share more with her on the next lesson. We set a return appointment, and she is officially a new investigator. I have dedicated all my language study and personal study this week for our lesson this Sunday. I am so excited, and I am praying with all my heart, all the time for her! 

Sunday nights we report all our numbers for the week. It had definitely been a great week, and it was cool because even the zone leader called us to commend us for the week. And after that on the next day, even the assistants called us and wanted to know about our success with the baptismal dates and new investigators! It was way cool and got me motivated to continue to work harder and improve. 

Monday morning we had District Meeting, and splits. I was on a split with Anziano Reed, and he is only one transfer older than me, so I think it's safe to say that we were the youngest companionship ever! I was a little nervous, but excited to take the challenge with the lack of knowledge with the language, and the city of Olbia being literally in my hands! The split went great! We even found a new investigator! This man named Roberto who me and Anziano Vitali found weeks before finally let us into his home, and we taught him the first lesson. He has a young family, and they would be a perfect addition to our branch! I am praying for him a ton, and I look forward to seeing him again this week. 
Anziano Lacey and Reed on path to Isola Manna
On the split we found two other people who said they would come to church and check it out, and I even taught a mini lesson to a guy on the street for about 20 minutes. I learned so much this split, and I am grateful for my improvement in the language so that I can be more effective. I can't wait until it gets better! Another funny story, Anziano Reed and I were doing a religious survey in centro (city center) to kind of "break the ice" into street contacting. We were talking to a mother and her teen aged daughter, and they asked where we were from. Every Italian knows about California, and freak out when they know you're from there, but Anziano Reed is from Arizona, and he has to explain where it's at whenever we talk to people. Well, when he said that the teenaged girl knew about Arizona through the Twilight books, and Anziano Reed looked at her really confused so I turned to him and said in Italian that the main character's mother lived there. He looked at me and started busting up laughing that I knew that and the teen aged girl got excited that I was a guy who knew about Twilight. Needless to say, Anziano Reed now likes to rip on me a ton for it! :)
8/31/11 - Path to Isola Manna where the Tache family lives
Well Hope has definitely been my theme for this week. Ever since we met the Tache's I talked to my companion about how cool it would be to baptize a whole Island, and now look where they are at! I hoped from the day I met Gabriella that we would teach her, now we are doing it! I have been praying hard to find a family, and now we have Roberto! The Lord has been blessing us so much. I know that without his help, none of these miracles could happen. Last night we went to the Branca Family home for dinner. Alessio, our ward mission leader and the one who served his mission asked me to teach him a lesson in English. He learned English from his American companions on his mission and said that he missed it. The first week I was here I asked him what his favorite word in English was, and he said Hope. Well, it worked out perfectly, and so I taught him a lesson about hope, and we were both in tears. The Spirit was so strong! I love the Gospel so much, and I feel my testimony growing and growing. I have been promised that I would have a "rock solid testimony" through my experiences on this mission that would support me throughout my life.

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 all your prayers and support. A week and a half and then I'll be done with my first transfer! It's crazy how time flies!!!

Vi Amo!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Buon Giorno! Settimana 4 Con Miracoli!‏

Carissimo Mia Famiglia,

Wow, it's been a crazy week, but in a good way. I'm going to spoil the ending to this letter, but basically, we have three new investigators, and two of them have baptismal dates! I'll explain in more detail at the end!

Zone conference was amazing. We drove to Sassari and picked up Anziani Reed e Harris, and then we took the long drive to Cagliari. We got there super late, and were lost. Cagliari is a huge city!!! Way bigger than little Olbia! When we finally found our way to the apartment of the Cagliari Anziani (right next to one of the oldest- still running markets in the world) they cooked us some awesome spicy pasta, which was nice because Italians don't know what spicy is! I miss Mexican food, not going to lie! 

Zone conference was awesome. I got to meet my zone leader who is serving in Oristano, and I got to see the sisters who traveled here to Sardegna with me again. The Assistants came with Sister Kelly, but President Kelly wasn't there! He came really late because I guess there was a big problem with another Anziano on the mainland. They didn't tell us much more. A general authority who visited our mission a few months ago taught us how to do a "Lesson Zero". It is pretty crazy. Basically, you give the potential investigator the baptismal invitation right off the bat. He said that through this we will have more people turn us away, but the people that we do find will be solid. I guess there has been lots of problems with people who just like talking to the missionaries instead of those who make any real progress, so this lesson is ment to find those who are truly ready. And I can testify to you that it works! When President flew in a few hours later, he taught us an amazing principle: Aspettati un miracolo: Expect a miracle. He said that we can find miracles every single day and he gave us a little card to carry with us that said "Aspettati un miracolo" so that we could always remember it. It was awesome seeing President, but we couldn't see him for very long. After some gelato with the zone (fragola e limone é mio preferito!), we began the long drive home. We stayed the night in Sassari, and drove home to Olbia in the morning. That day I was determined to see a miracle! We went and did "casa a casa", and found two potential families that are awesome! One was this super rich family who had a nine year old son named Lorenzo, and I told him that I had a fratello who was nine also! He thought that was cool. The mother in the other family wasn't really interested, but she told us that her 12 year old daughter named Valentina was really interested in religion, and she is really cool so we'll see if she wants to be taught or if the mom even lets us! 

Later that day we found a 17 year old kid named Igu that just moved to Olbia from Brazil. He doesn't speak very good Italian, so there was some communication problems. Anziano Vitali and I were determined to teach him and baptize him, so when we went over again a few days later to teach him a lesson zero, we found out that he was already baptized a year ago! It was so funny! He is a recent convert, and didn't know that there was a church here in Olbia. He is super excited to come to church with us this week and to be a part of the branch. He even told us that he would try to bring some friends and he invited us to go play soccer with them one of these nights, so I'm excited for that! Boom, miracle. 

Oh, remember how I thought our investigator Francisco dropped us and was ignoring us? We eventually got a call from him and it turned out he ran out of credits with his phone, and he was working a ton. We've seen him a ton the last couple of days (which ment another horse pizza!) and yesterday he left Golfo Aranci to go home to Como. It was sad saying bye to him, but he is already in contact with some Anziani in Milan, and he is planning on moving out of his girlfriend's place, and he is very excited to be baptized here soon. Boom, miracle.

My second week we found a guy from Nigeria who spoke English. His name was Kebe, and he was super nice! It turns out he knew the missionaries before from a few years ago, and his number was even in our phone already. He lived in Cagliari, and he was just in Olbia for a little while. He said he'd call us when he came back to Olbia. This week I had a feeling that I should call him to see how he's doing. I called and he was really excited to hear from me. He asked if there were missionaries in Cagliari, and I said, yes sir! I then called the Anziani in Cagliari and refered them to him. They called him, and they've already met with him and is a new investigator as of yesterday. The cool thing is, the Cagliari Anziani just baptized a man from Nigeria last Saturday, so they basically have an automatic friendship in the church. Boom, miracle. 

Okay, my turn!

Last P-day after we did emailing, Anziano Vitali and I went on a hike around the bay. There was a three foot wide, 1/4 of a mile long cement pathway that went through the bay, all the way to these little islands and rocks in the middle of the bay. It's a fun but sketchy walk, because there are no railings on this pathway through the water. We hiked across the pathway until we got to the island. There was a fork in the road, and one pathway went left, and one went right. Anziano Vitali asked which way I wanted to go and I said, "Lets choose the right." We joked that we should go tracting on this little, uninhabited island. We walked until we reached an old cement house that appeared abandoned. A man walked out, and we were a little scared! He was super nice, and asked us what we were up to (the name tags probably looked pretty weird to him) and we said we were just hiking around. He walked over to us and we just talked for a good 20 minutes about life, as we looked out across the water at Olbia. His wife came out too and began talking to us. They talked about how hard life was for them at the moment, and about how poor they were. The wife had a really bad ankle, and it was difficult for them to find work. Then they started bringing up that all they had left in their life was God. It was perfect. We told them that we'd come back and give them a Book of Mormon, and directions for church. On Saturday we walked over there prepared to teach, but they weren't there, so we left them a Book of Mormon in their native language (Romanian) and some pamphlets about the church with our number and directions to our church in Olbia. During sacrament meeting on Sunday our phone went off. We didn't call back till later, and it turns out it was them searching for our church! We were so happy they had the desire to come, and we set up an appointment to see them on Monday. We met them in a park, and began to teach them a "lesson zero". We opened with a prayer, and the wife, Jona, began to cry as Anziano Vitali asked that God would bless them. It was an awesome lesson, and they agreed to be baptized. We then went back to teach the lesson of the Restoration yesterday, and got a date for October 1st (we just realized that that is when General Conference is so we have to change it) for a baptism for them if they were ready and strived to prepare for that day. It was so awesome, and I am so happy for them! The husband, Jonel might need a little more work, but Jona is so prepared! They even have friends they want us to go teach now. Boom, miracle.

Church was super fun this week! There was a family from Austria on vacation. Some of them spoke English, but they knew no Italian, and they asked me to translate for them throughout sacrament meeting. It was so hard! Especially because I can't even understand a few of the members and how they speak, and it was testimony meeting! It was a ton of fun though, and the Austrian family was awesome! We all giggled together when I had no idea what was said! I felt good about how much I did understand though, and it was great practice. It was also a nice break talking to members of the church who spoke English!

Well, as you can imagine, things are going soooo good! We have a lot of potentials that are so close to becoming investigators, and my goal is to fill my time with teaching! We'll get there soon. Oh... I have a funny food story:

We went to a member's home to leave her with a spiritual thought (we are trying to get her husband interested in the church) and her mother came and cooked some rice-seafood dish and offered us some. I screamed inside as I looked in the bowl and saw different alien foods in the bowl, including whole pieces of shrimp. You know me, I'm not a big seafood guy, at all! I was scared to death, and I had no idea how to eat shrimp! So as I picked up the little guy with my spoon, I could imagine him trying to swim away from my moth with his little legs and I could see him looking at me with his big black eyes. I downed the whole thing... and then three more after that, holding back the gags. I then looked over at my companion, and he ripped off the head, tore off the shell, legs, etc. and only ate the white meat on the inside. I wanted to punch myself and I felt like such an idiot! I then tried only the white meat (like how you're supposed to eat a shrimp) and loved it. Oh, and it turns out that the other weird stuff in the dish were things like octopus, fish guts, eyes of swimming things, no biggy. Ha, ha, ewww. But I do love the food here! I must brag and say that I am becoming a master pasta-maker! I eat it everyday! Oh, and something new - I love tomatoes! I thought I would never say that, but I eat them all the time like candy. Mmmmm! Especially on horse pizza! Haha. 

Well, things are going great. I'm loving Italy, and I'm loving Sardegna. I miss you all so much, and I bring pictures of you all where ever I go. People love seeing our family photo! And it make me miss you all... Can you believe it, tomorrow is my 3 month mark! Crazy, it hasn't even felt like that long. 

I love you all 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. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement! Vi voglio bene! Baci e abbracci! 

Con Amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey