Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sono quasi finito con il mio secondo trasferimento!‏


Happy Halloween!!! Yes, they celebrate Halloween here in Italy, but it's a little different and not as big as it is in America. Saturday night we are going to an activity in Sassari so I'm excited for that!

This has been an awesome week! Things have been going very well. To start off we have found two new investigators that have a lot of potential! We are really excited for them! The Tache's are doing well. They are still searching for a better house and Iona is finding work almost every day which is good. They still love coming to church and the members really like them, so all is well! We have finally been having more teaching opportunities, and a bit less of finding work, which is nice. It's hard to not get frustrated when going from house to house!

On Friday night we went to a town called Posada to visit some of our members that have the cutest family! Our main reason for going there first was to see a potential investigator we met in Olbia but lived in a tiny town close to Posada called Siniscola. We had a tough time finding his house, but he directed us there on the phone. When we got to the door his mother answered and shooed us away! We tried calling him back but he never answered. So we went and saw this family. We had so much fun and the nine-year-old girl named Sara had me help her with English homework and then I read a story about Rapunzel to the other little girl named Alice. It was a lot of fun and I love their family! They also made us a very good homemade pizza. We want to go visit a castle today for p-day which is close to their house so we'll see them again tonight. 
Castle on top of rocks

On Saturday, Alessio came to Olbia to help us out with teaching. We went to see Ritta again, but she still just wants to Bible bash. Alessio used to be Catholic, and so she is very interested to know the reasons why he left. We haven't made much progress with her, so we'll see what we'll do. I think the main thing she doesn't like about our church is that our priesthood authorities have families. I say that is something beautiful about our church! We also met with Iona and had a really good lesson with her regarding the First Vision. We wanted to build her testimony the God and Jesus Christ did in fact appear to Joseph Smith, and it was amazing to hear here bear testimony about it after we watched the Restoration video. We also went and visited on of our members who is very poor. His health is not the greatest, and he can't work. His daughter left for Madrid for work, but came home because she is having mental problems where she has little episodes and forgets her memory. It was very sad because when we went to his house she had an episode while we were there. After he calmed her down he began crying and we comforted him and shared with him some encouraging scriptures. It was a really sad and touching moment. 

Sunday was great! We had a lot of non-members in church. We saw a true miracle when one of our members brought her husband to church! Before, he didn't want anything to do with the church and utterly avoided it, but he finally came! We also were invited to their house for family home evening and it was amazing. This sister was so happy to have her husband there and be a part of the activity. We are praying hard that he will one day be baptized so that their family can be sealed in the Rome temple one day! He is a very great man and treats his wife with a lot of respect, which I really admire. Especially because just before we went to their house we were at our landlord's house (we are going to move church locations eventually and he tries to persuade us not to move) and he ordered his wife around like a slave!

After church on Sunday the Alessio invited us over for lunch so we decided to do some finding work in Calangianus. We worked for hours, and I was beginning to get frustrated, not going to lie. We hadn't found any true success at Calangianus before, therefore my 'hope tank' was running real low. Somebody called us and Anziano Vitali was talking to them on the phone. I sat down on the curb and said a little prayer for help. We were getting ready to head back to the Branca's house for dinner as we approached the last house on the street. We knocked on the door, waited for awhile, and then began walking away. As we were walking away a woman answered the door so we ran back up the stairs to greet her. We began talking, and she was a little hesitant at first. As we were "breaking the ice" she realized that we were normal, and invited us in the house. We asked if there was a man in the house (as a rule) and her twenty-year-old son and his friend were there. She was also very impressed and honored that we had that rule. She grabbed the two young men from the bedroom and brought them out to talk to us. We all hit it off right away! One of the guys was really into art and loved the fact that I made movies. The other was into economics like Anziano Vitali. We had a lot of fun talking and getting to know each other. After we all became best friends (the mom absolutely loved us), we taught them the first lesson. It went really well and we gave her a Book of Mormon. She said for us to come back again the next time we were in Calangianus, and she seems really interested in the gospel. We gave her some reading assignments, so we pray that she will feel the Spirit! We look forward to seeing them again soon. That would be amazing if the young men got baptized and served missions! I'll let my imagination go wild. 

I think the highlight of my week happened yesterday. We found this very nice woman named Marissa, but she kept postponing the time in which we would meet, but finally we had a set date for Tuesday. We went in the morning and she was very happy to see us. We sat a table on her front porch and began to get to know her a bit. She said that when she saw us for the first time she felt like she needed to meet with us and that we could bring a light into her life. It was so cool to here that! She then said that her daughter has been extremely ill lately, and has been going to the doctors to have tests to see if she has a problem with allergies to foods (something like that, I'm 100% perfect at understanding Italian yet) and she noted that things have been difficult. We told her how the Gospel blesses families and began to teach her the first lesson. She really enjoyed it and had a lot of questions. The only problem was that she seemed a little displeased with the fact that we don't pray to Mary or to the Saints. We will have to be very careful with what we say and how we teach her, but I feel that she is ready. We have another appointment to see her again and we hope that she comes to church. I don't know if I've talked about it yet, but in Italy they have a greeting they use by kissing each other on the left, then right cheeks. Of course as missionaries we aren't supposed to do it, but if somebody doesn't know we aren't supposed to deny it in order to not be rude. Well, Marissa gave us each the "baci" (pronounced ba-ch-e), which means that she really cares about us! It was hilarious, Anziano Vitali accidentally went for the right cheek while she was going for the left so they almost made lip contact! Hahaha. So far in Italy I've been "baci"-ed four times. Yes, I'm counting. 

Other than that we had English course again. We met a man named Fernando earlier that day wanted to know about English course, but then it got into a discussion about the Gospel. We the turned the conversation into a lesson as we opened up the church and taught him about the Restoration. He was literally blown away and left in awe. I wish you could have seen his face! He was really interested in the Book of Mormon and said he would start to read it. The thing that he was mostly blown away about was how well we spoke Italian. He told us that we were liars and that we couldn't have learned Italian this well, that fast. It was hilarious! He is a funny man who is a lawyer and we hope that he comes to English course often and becomes interested in the church! Giovanni gave me a book as a gift to help my Italian, so I was very grateful for that! The people here are so nice! 

Well that sums up the week! I am literally enjoying every minute of the mission. I love the people of Italy with all my heart. In just over a week I will be finished with my second transfer. I can hardly believe it because it seems like I haven't been her for that long at all. I don't want it to go by as fast as it has been so far! Too quick!!! This Saturday we'll se if I'm getting transfered out or not! I have a feeling I'll be here through Christmas. So we'll see! I'm scared though because I can't predict anything! President does have a reputation for sending elders from Olbia to Lecce on the mainland, so we'll see! 

To finish off, 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 tons! Have a happy and safe Halloween! No cavaties! Take care! Vi voglio un galassia di bene! Abbracci per tutti! Avete una settimana con miracoli e benedizione! Ricordatevi il Signore ogni giorno! Grazie a Dio possiamo vivere insieme per sempre! Sono molto grato per quello! A lo prossimo! Voi siete bravissimi!   

Con amore,

Anziano Clay Lacey

Sorridete sempre! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Buon Giorno!‏

Dear Family,

Ciao! Thanks for the awesome emails! It was really nice hearing from you all!

Things are great here in Europe! The weather on Sardegna can't decide whether it wants to stay hot or get cold but it's really nice! I'm looking forward to winter! We have been all over Sardegna this week and I'm pretty sure we've hit every major city. I've been exhausted! 

First, a little update on the investigators. The Tache's had a great blessing in their lives recently. Ionel found a full time job! It's a great job too and I think he works on boats or something like that. They are saving up so that they can buy a house to stay. It is starting to get very cold at night so this is a huge blessing. Iona has been finding a bit of work cleaning a lady's house so things are looking good for them! The only problem is that it looks like they can't get baptized unless they separate. So we'll see what happens. There are a few part member families that we are really working with to get their non member family members close to the gospel. We started teaching this one man who has a testimony of the church and most of all of the Book of Mormon. The only problem is he doesn't want to give up smoking to get baptized. It was really funny as he was telling us how mad he was at Emma Smith for the whole tobacco thing! He really doesn't like her. Another member who has a husband who is not a member set something up so that we could do a family home evening at her house. Her husband is slowly getting closer to the church as he is coming to more and more activities. We'll see! We also had a less active member come to the district conference with his family and he has been making a lot of progress. Other than that we are really trying hard to find new investigators. Our goal is two new ones each week as the standards of excellence. We really want to fill our time with teaching rather than finding, and we've been doing a ton of finding lately. But it's all fun!

Thursday was Anziano Vitali's birthday. The Anziani in Oristano have a baptismal date and they are both the zone leader and district leader so Anziano Vitali who is the other district leader had to do the baptismal interview. We drove all the way to Oristano, and then after the interview we went to McDonald's to celebrate his birthday. The young man that they baptized is so awesome! He is named Francesco and he is definitely one of the elect. He wants to serve a mission and it has been a lot of fun speaking with him at the conferences. It looks like the rest of his family might get baptized too! Miracle island of Sardegna!

On Saturday the Anziani from Sassari came into Olbia by bus and we drove to Cagliari. It was my turn to drive and I got stuck with the longest journey we had, but it's all good, I love seeing the beautiful Sard countryside! We made it to Cagliari and we went straight to the church building where the first session of district conference was to be held. President and Sister Kelly were already there, so it was fun to finally see them again! Conference was awesome. I sat next to this recent convert named Walter and it was fun speaking with him after the conference. Fratello Moro is another member that I really love from Sassari. I showed him my photo album and he loves our family! I need to take a picture with him and send it to you guys. He's got the deepest voice ever and it's so funny when he messes with the Sassari Anziani.  Anyways, right after the conference we had a Priesthood meeting where Alessio gave an awesome training. President Kelly (who is excellent at Italian) gave talks at every session of conference. 

It was fun being with all the Anziani at the Cagliari apartment. Anziano Green was transferred out and Anziano Longhurst who was a friend of mine in the MTC from the older zone was transferred in. We had a lot of fun catching up and he was telling me all about his first two transfers in Sicily. He saw some crazy things! I also talked to Anziano Larsen who is our zone leader and he only has two transfers left. He really gave me good tips on improving the language.

On Sunday we had one more session and then a lunch with the members. During the lunch President pulled me aside for my interview! It went good and from his hints I think I'll be on Sardegna for awhile! But who knows, people say that he is unpredictable! After that we finally had our zone conference and it was great. President really inspired us to work hard to find investigators. It had to be cut a little short because President and Sister Kelly had to catch their plane back to Rome. It was a great conference altogether, and I love being in Cagliari! Maybe I'll get to serve there!

That night we said goodbye and went to Sassari. We stayed the night there and decided to do splits and have both companionships work there. I was with Anziano Harris, and we did a lot of house work. I did have a really cool experience though, both with listening to the promptings of the Spirit, and with the Gift of Tongues. We were walking to go hit up another Palazzo when I saw to our right three mothers and their children. I felt like I should go talk to them. I told Anziano Harris and we walked over there. Two of the ladies rolled their eyes, but I walked up to them and said, "My name is Anziano Lacey, me and my companion are sharing a message for the family and how we can live together forever." While the ladies ignored me one was really interested. We talked for a while and we went over the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. She said she liked it all, but she had doubts. I told her that all doubt could be taken away through faith. She liked what I said a lot, and said that she wanted to come to church to see what it was like. It was an awesome experience! And a cool part was Anziano Harris didn't have to help me with the language at all! Too bad she's in Sassari... Just kidding!

I had a few more interesting experiences in Sassari. One young lady we stopped said that I looked like Leonardo DiCaprio... but more beautiful. I was like... Thanks..? It was funny, and a nice compliment, I'm not going to lie! Another time we were on a bus and this teen aged girl kept touching my leg! Weird stuff!

The past couple of days haven't been too exciting besides English course. I tried to introduce the Gospel to Giovanni... But I'm afraid I offended him a little because he is Buddhist and doesn't believe in Christ at all. I had no idea and I hope he comes back. At least I tried...

Other than that we are really trying to find new investigators. It's hard, but with a little prayer and hard work, it's definitely possible! Things are going good, and I appreciate all your prayers and support. 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. Vi voglio bene!!!!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

4 Months in!

Hey guys!

Things are still great here in Italy! Thanks for all of your emails and it's really nice to hear that everyone is doing good! This has been a pretty average weeks, nothing too exciting going on, so we'll see what I can come up with to write!

The Tache's are doing great! They are so nice to us! Twice this week they've had us over for dinner (and it was a very interesting dinner to say the least). We ate fish straight off the bone! I even tried the little eyes! All of my deepest fears of eating food on the mission are being conquered! We have now taught them all of the lessons and they are keeping up on all commitments. The district president of Sardegna met them on Sunday and loved them! He told the branch president to give them calling in the church even though they aren't members yet. Ionel got a suit donated to him from the local Catholic church and he looks pretty slick when he wears it to church! They are trying to do all they can to get the baptisms going, and even talking about moving out until they can get their marriage deal taken care of. It's amazing to hear them pray!

This week we have been doing a lot of finding work. We have worked in Calangianus a few more times but have found very little success. One lady got me hopeful, but we'll see. We knocked on her door and she was very happy to see us. She invited us in and she kept starring at me! She said that she had met me before but she couldn't remember where. So in my mind I thought, perfect! We met before in the premortal existence, now I'm going to baptize her! Well... It didn't turn out that way. She was a bit on the crazy side and after giving us some pear juice she attempted to read our minds. She couldn't read mine because I guess I was closed off, but her predictions about my companion were pretty funny and almost dead on. We got out of that house ASAP! Remember that old lady that I told you we met and she was a bit creepy? She calls us everyday from different numbers saying she is praying for us and that she wants us to stay at her house. Ya, we are freaked out! We saved all of her numbers and we ignore them now. She calls us her "little hearts". Creepy!

We have found some neat people though. We have done a ton of finding work in the rich areas of Olbia, with some success! We met this nice young lady named Marissa who has a husband and two kids. We gave her a Book of Mormon and made another appointment to see her this coming week. She seemed really interested in religion, and we are praying that she will be prepared to hear our message! Another night we were in the same part of town and we walked next to a Catholic church. We kept walking forward until we saw a huge house right next door. We decided to knock on it. The man who owned it named Salvatore came out and began talked to us. He invited us into his house and we met his wife and daughter. They are very active in the church next door, but he's always been curious with our church but never knew that the church was here on Sardegna. He's read the Book of Mormon before and liked it and the things it taught about Christ. He wants to come to church so we'll see how it goes! I'm pretty hopeful about him and his family!

One Sunday a member brought one of her friends to church and he loved it! He agreed to see us again so I'm excited to begin teaching him too. We haven't had a chance to see the Tache's daughter Roberta yet (we need to take a bus so that the Tache's can show us where she lives) but she is excited to see us again. We plan to teach her a "lesson zero" and get her committed to baptism right off the bat like her parents. 

Nothing much has happened with our other investigators unfortunately. We are bummed that Gabriella won't return our phone calls, and we dropped Roberto because he is ignoring us also. We still have to see Ritta this week, but she likes to bible bash more than being taught a lesson, so we will bring Alessio next time and figure out if there is still potential. Vediamo! (We will see!)

The language is going good, some of our English course students say they want to help me with my Italian since we're helping them with English. I am now down to reading only in Italian, and I'm working on finishing the Book of Mormon in Italian but it's going a little slow because I'm reading the whole thing out loud for practice with the language and getting the accent down. I'm almost done with 2nd Nephi! Our English course students love the class so much that they want to do it twice a week now. We have fun and laugh a lot as we learn together, so it's great! I'm still trying to look for a good opening to introduce the Gospel to Giovanni, and I think he would be an awesome member if he were baptized!

We have a new Branch president! President Branca got released and his son, Ignazio has taken the calling. I am really excited for this because his wife is not a member, and this opens up a great opportunity for her to join the church. She comes to church every week, but leaves during sacrament meeting to take care of their 10 month old baby, Valentina. This week she stayed the whole time! Piano, piano! She is way cool and I would love for their family to be sealed together! I know it will happen someday!

I am really looking forward to Saturday and Sunday! We have district conference and then zone conference also. I think it will be great and I know it will be just as inspiring as the "expect a miracle" conference we had last transfer. We will be down in Cagliari the whole time so I'm stoked to see the big city again!

Well I'm sorry this email is so short. Lets pray that the next one is full of stories with new investigators and baptismal dates! I know it will be! I love you all so much! I miss you a lot, but I look forward to hearing your voices in a few months! I think we can even do a little bit of Skype. 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! Send my love to everyone. My companion shared a scripture that I like a lot. 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Have a great week! Vi Voglio un sacco di bene!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dear Family!

Dear Family,

Ciao!!! Come state? Tutto bene qua! It's so nice to finally write back again! This has been another great week!

I guess I'll start with chronological order. We have been doing a bunch of finding work this week. Besides the Tache's and Ritta we have not been able to make contact with our other investigators. We see the Tache's almost everyday, and Ritta can only meet once a week, therefore, we need to do a lot of finding to get more investigators! So far we haven't found much luck, but it'll come! Every person who is not interested in the Gospel is closer to another who is interested. On Thursday we met somebody who is quite the character! We came to a gate and rung the bell. This older lady came out and she was so happy to see us! Her name was Anna and she let us into her home. Her husband was there but he didn't feel like coming out to greet us. She kind of freaked me and Anziano Vitali out! She was extremely nice, almost freakishly nice, and her eyes were opened wide like a bush baby (the world's smallest monkey I think), and she would never blink. She loved us and as she gave us this weird tasting pastry with eggplant inside she told us that she met with the missionaries with the past - but it didn't go anywhere. She was also very blatantly Catholic because she had statues of a bunch of the saints and the virgin Mary decorated in her home. She was super nice, but she kept insisting that we come and stay at their house whenever we felt lonely and told us to come over for every holiday and offered us money and stuff. It was all way nice, especially since she pulled out a little prayer book and had us write down our names and a little paragraph of our troubles so she can pray for us whenever she goes to church. She calls us ALL the time to update us on what she prays for. Funny stuff so we'll see her here and there and hopefully she doesn't kidnap us!

Conference was an interesting experience. We drove all the way to Sassari to see it. Sassari has a nice chapel, and we were expecting to watch it on the overhead projector, but no one could figure out how to work it so we gathered around a laptop to watch it. Saturday night we watched the Saturday morning session, and wow was it hard to understand! The translators were speaking fast in order to keep up with the talks, and some of the grammar was difficult since the Brethren speak very profoundly in English, and the translators were trying to do the same in Italian. I did manage to get a lot out of it and I loved Presidente Uchtdorf's talk on the worth of souls in the site of God. I came into General Conference with a personal question, and his talk sure answered it. I'm not sure if this is what the talk said in English, but in Italian I got a phrase out of it that I liked a lot. He said that man is nothing (since there are several scriptures that point out to that) but souls are everything to our Heavenly Father. I think it's important to remember that God is literally our Father in Heaven and there are no words and no earthly examples that can compare to his love for us. At times it is hard for our minds to encompass the fact that we, every person on the earth, every person who has lived on the earth, and all that will live, are, in reality, his children and he knows us with a very deep personal relationship that we don't have with anyone else. All we need to do is trust him and have a testimony that he did the ultimate sacrifice of love for us by giving his Only Begotten Son. Ya this is all stuff I already knew of course, but it was nice to have a strong reconfirmation to fortify my testimony. I love how the Gospel works.

We then went on a little giro (walk around) around Sassari with the Anziani and went to a pizzeria. It was a fun night and I really enjoy the stares you get from others being a 19 year old in a suit, tie, and name tag! 

It was awesome, the Tache's came for one of the sessions on Sunday! They were so excited to see the Prophet talk, and they were there for the Sunday morning session (which was at 6 p.m. our time). I was so happy to see them there, and they sacrificed a lot in order to be there. It is one of the most tender and sweetest things in the world to watch, over time, people gain a testimony. I saw the testimony of a living prophet grow in Iona as she listened to the Prophet speak about temples, and she cried when he bore his testimony. It was a beautiful thing. Ionel loved it also, and got a kick of President Monson's story about the money he lost. All the members of Sassari were extremely nice to them and very welcoming. To say the least, it was an amazing step for the Tache family! They are continuing to make great progress, staying true to commitments, and they are looking forward to baptism. It looks like they are doing all they can for the divorce and remarry situation. He thinks he can get the divorce in a week or two! Lets pray it happens!      

Going home from Sassari to OlbiaSassari. Well, there was a little mistake and the Tache's missed their train, which was the last one that night until 7 o'clock the next morning. So, we had to call President to get permission to drive them home since there was no other way for them to get home. It was a long night, and driving around a large city, in Italy, at night, was crazy when you don't know where you're going. We didn't get to Olbia until about 11 that night and it was a miserable night but we had a nice talk with the Tache's in the car. 

Remember that seventeen year old from Brazil that we found who was a member? He's been tough to contact lately, and he works a bunch so he hasn't come to church. Well we stopped by two nights ago and we finally got to talk to his mom! She is also Brazilian and married an Italian so that's why she's here now. She was way cool and she told Igu to invite us to play soccer with him and his friends, so I look forward to that soon! Hopefully we can get him and her to church!

Last night we started a free English course at church! We had about 15 people show up, and it looks like they had a blast! We are praying to find an investigator through this program. One man, Giovanni, lived in England for about 4 years, and came to do some conversation since he hasn't spoken English for awhile. We talked for about an hour, and I feel confident that he could be ready to hear the message, so I'll work my way to fit something in with our conversation the next week!

The Italian is coming along, and I think I'm going to try to do a whole week in all Italian so that I can force myself to start thinking in Italian. I want to have the language down this transfer so that I can keep building up from there. Alessio is helping me a lot with the language. Whenever we go to his house for ward council I will read a page of the Book of Mormon out loud so that he can help me with the word and my accent. I want so bad to have somewhat of an Italian accent when I speak! Some people say it's impossible, but I think if I immerse myself in it I can pick something up!

Well that's the week. Things are going great! The mission is awesome, and it's the best thing in the world! 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. Thanks for all of your support! I love you all so much! Vi voglio un saco di bene! 

Anziano Clay Lacey