Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sono grato che sia mercoledì di nuovo!‏

Carissima Famiglia,

You have no idea how amazing it was to talk to you all! I was so excited about our talk and you all look and sound great! Some of the stuff in this email will be a little bit of a repeat since we talked about most of it already, but we'll see how it goes. Nevertheless it was a great week, but not very full of missionary work because we were supposed to take a few days off because all of the festivals and Italian cultural differences. 

Despite all that we got another baptismal date! Yesterday we were walking back from doing some finding work to go home for lunch and I felt like we should stop by and see the Mazzone's for a second to see how their Christmas was and to see if we were going to have Family Home Evening that night. They invited us in and Ignazio was very happy to see us. He sat us down and his wife had a huge smile on her face. She said that he has been praying and fasting, and has found a date! He then told us that his answer was the 21st of January. We were all very happy and he says he feels good about this date. I am excited, especially since we will both be here and we will see the ending goal as our part as missionaries, and the beginning to his new covenant making lifestyle with the Lord. We have another lesson with him tonight where we will focus on the Book of Mormon where there will no doubt be a great Spirit to be felt there. Ignazio sends holiday wishes to you all!

Other than that not very much progress with investigators because of the continued business of the holiday season. Speaking of the holiday season, I love how much happier people get generally around this time of the year. I told you all already, but I wanted to recount the fun little evening we had at the bar. Now don't get me wrong, Italian bars are very different from our U.S. bars. Everyone goes to bars in Italy and they sell everything kind of like a little cafe or something like that. Anyways, on Christmas Eve our emotions were high after talking to the families and we decided to go get a soda at a bar near our home. We went inside and got our drinks, but thought it was a bad idea since there were a few drunk people there being a little loud and disruptive.  We quickly finished our drinks and went up to pay. When we spoke to the bartender he told us that a man had already payed for our drinks. He pointed the man out to us, and we went to go thank him. He was an extremely nice man who seemed to have a few mental difficulties, and the people who were with him and the regular attenders of this bar noted on how great of a man he was. He told us he talked to missionaries in the past and really liked them so he decided to show a kind gesture for us. At that moment I really felt the love of the Christmas Spirit. And that wasn't the end of it. A woman from England came up to us and began talking to us randomly and wanted to talk to us about who we where, so she invited us to come back to this bar another day and get a drink with her, her husband, and daughter. After that the bartender started giving us attention about being Americans because I guess he really loves America, and then this little story in the bar ended with us seeing one of our students from English course who had just walked in and was very happy to see us. We got a "bro-bach" as I call it and it was the kissy cheek to cheek thing with a man. We left the bar with nearly everyone in there saying goodbye and Merry Christmas. It was a great evening and that's when the spirit and love of Christmas really kicked in for me. 

We had a great time on Christmas! We had church for an hour, and then squeezed into the Branca's cars to head to Calangianus and spend the day there. We had an awesome lunch that consisted of baked pasta, lamb, and pork. Just a little something to gross you all out, but I ate some pig brain! After lunch we opened some gifts from Alessio and he made us each two sweaters, a scarf, and got us each a tie! His family also got us each a tie, and it was a lot of fun spending the holiday with them. And of course I got to Skype you all which was the highlight of my first Christmas in Italy!

Okay, we had a bit of an interesting experience last night. Anziano Vitali Skyped his family, and when he was done we decided to go out to eat. There is a restaurant here in town that we like to go to for a little break from all the pasta, and it's a 50's style American diner. It's actually really good! Anyways, one of the main reasons we like to go there now is because a few days ago we found out that they had a ping pong table. Anziano Vitali is also very passionate about ping pong, and the playful "trash-talking" between us about who would win began. When we were finished with our hamburgers we grabbed the paddles and began playing. Before we started playing there was a family who wasn't very good at all just hitting the ball back and forth in spasmodic manners, so, when we played with more skill, it was quite the attention grabber for the other clients in the restaurant. Anziano Vitali and I are pretty evenly matched, so we had some very fast and intense rallies going that created a great show for the people watching. Later, two girls came to watch us at the booth closest to the ping pong table. I just want to add that a non-missionary, nineteen year old young man would think that these were two very pretty girls. Anyways, the ball flew towards them after a bad shot, and it went under their table. I went to go get it, apologizing to them, but as I reached under the table one of the girls snatched it very quickly and gave me a smile. Red flags flew off in my head immediately! She looked me straight in the eyes and said, flirtatiously, that the ball was hers now. Her and her friend got up, she asked for my paddle, and her friend went and took Anziano Vitali's. They were both giggling and started playing (terribly) and so we began to get ready to leave. They told us to wait, but we paid and ran out of there like Joseph of Egypt. I know this isn't obviously a spiritual uplifting story to put into a missionary's email home, but I hope it gives somebody a laugh! 

I want you all to know how much I love this mission. Absolutely not because of the story above, but because of the opportunity I have to be a part of the most important work that is on this earth today. I haven't seen a crazy amount of success as far as baptisms go so far in the six months of my mission, but I've seen so many miracles! The baptisms will pick up for sure though, I know it. I am so excited for this new year. I've been away from you guys for over six months but when I talked to you all it didn't seem very long at all. I'm grateful for the love and the strength of our relationship that is still powerful even though we are miles apart. I love you Dad! I love you Mom! I love you Morgan! I Love you Brooke! I love you Heather! I love you Greg! Vi voglio tanto bene, come sempre, e sono molto contento che io sia una parte di questa famiglia! 

Happy New Year!!! Don't forget to really set goals for a new year. I've learned the importance of setting goals so far in my mission, and we can accomplish extraordinary things if we not only set "to do" goals, but more importantly "to be" goals. I bear personal testimony of that! Anyways, love you all tons!

A presto!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

è quasi Natale!‏

Carissimo famiglia,

Ciao! Only a few days until I get to speak to you all! I can't wait!!! Anyways, this has been a fantastic week! Besides all the cold. It's been getting very cold and rainy here! When we go to Calangianus for Christmas there might even be snow since the city is in the mountains!

Well let me start of with Ignazio. Wednesday night we had another lesson with him, and we decided to watch Finding Faith in Christ. After we went over a few verses we watched the film and bore testimony of the Savior's role in our lives. He really felt the Spirit and all three of us were crying. After the lesson his wife came in and asked, "What did I miss!" It was really funny. Since we really want to fix a new date for a baptism, we talked about fasting from Saturday lunch to Sunday lunch. He really agreed with that so me and my companion, Ignazio, and his wife all fasted to know. Tonight we have an appointment set where we will talk about the fast and when he thinks he'll be ready for baptism. I'm really excited!!!

We finally had an appointment with the Tache's and they are doing great. Work is going good, and they are looking forward to Christmas. I didn't realize how much they love the Book of Mormon! They read everyday, and they even have study journals that they write in with things they learn! It was awesome! They couldn't come to church this week because he had work and she had to take care of her sick grandchildren, but they look forward to being in church on Christmas!

Other than that it's been near impossible to see other people because everyone is so busy with the holidays and leaving for vacations. We have had a bit of success though as far as finding, but the people we find tell us to come back after the holidays, so things are going a little slow. We did have a cool experience as far as being led by the Spirit though.

We were out doing house contacting and weren't having much luck at all. We finished the whole area and decided to find somewhere else to go. As we were walking down a street we then realized that there was a palazzo that we didn't knock on yet, so we entered the apartment building and began. We decided that this would be the last building we'd do because we had a long way to walk if we couldn't catch a bus. We knocked on a door and a young woman answered. We told her that we had a message of Christ that we were sharing at this Christmas season and she let us in (which rarely happens). Well we forgot to do something that is really important to do, ask if there was a man home before we came in. It's a really important rule! When we realized she was the only one home her dad came home, so we were good! We began teaching her the first lesson. Her name is Valentina and she is 21. Apparently her grandpa talked with missionaries in the past, and she was interested. Halfway through the lesson her mom came home and then both the dad and the mom came in for the lesson. They were all very interested. After we closed, we just sat and talked for awhile! They are so cool! The dad, Marco, collects remote controlled planes and showed us everything they had. They are such an awesome family, and they want us to come back again after the holidays. We left them with the Book of Mormon and they were excited to read it. They are definitely "legit" and we have a lot of hope for them!

That's about it for investigator progress!

As far as details go, things have been great this week. We finished English course for the next few weeks during the holidays, so I'm a little happy about that. It's fun, but it gets in the way of times we could have teaching appointments. The last time I taught the conversational part, and they like to get into political discussions about America with me. Eventually it led to the church's stance on political issues, because they stressed that the Catholic church has a huge role in Italy's government apparently. That led to a huge gospel discussion, and one guy wanted a Book of Mormon! It was kind of nice talking about the gospel in English for a little break! 

Friday night we had our Christmas party. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but nothing like a Sunset Hills Ward Christmas party. We watched Joy to the World, ate some pizza and other dishes, and then there was a little thing presented by the primary and ended with Santa Clause (Babbo Natale in Italian) giving the kids each presents. It was fun!

On Sunday an ex-missionary who served his mission in Olbia came with his mother and father! It was neat talking to him because he was a greenie in Olbia too and stayed here for seven months. His mother served her mission in Italy and his father is Italian so I didn't have to do any translating for sacrament meeting, thank goodness! They were a really cool family though, and it's always fun to see Americans in Italy. We were printing out pictures and met this technician from Oregon who married an Italian and has been here for 28 years! I'm sure if I serve in Rome I will see people like that a lot. 

After church on Sunday we kind of got kidnapped! We have been working with this less-active family for awhile now, and finally they came to church! They invited us over for lunch, so we were happy about that. They gave us a ride to their house, which is about an hour away, and we supposed that they would give us a ride home too. Well, after we had finished lunch and a little lesson, they asked us if we knew the bus times. Of course we did not for this little random city, so she told us to go wait at the bus stop until something came. It was lovely. It was cold, it was raining, and we didn't even know if there would be a bus on Sunday! After about an hour it came and we got home. At times like that I miss our car! 

It was great, we were walking back home for lunch, and decided to check out a few street vendors. We were walking and there was this hippy guy playing some kind of tropical style drums. He said, "Vive Mormoni!" Which is kind of like, "Long live the Mormons!" We laughed and went go talk to him of course. He is from Argentina, and met with the missionaries there. He talked about how much he loved the Latter-day Saint people, but he never joined the church because he has his own philosophy of living. He was a way cool guy, and he hooked us up with these cool little hippster style heart keychains to give to somebody we love. It was a way funny little experience!

To finish off we had F.H.E. with the Mazzone's last night. Sorella Mazzone taught the lesson, and as part of the lesson she had us share some of our favorite scriptures. When it landed on Ignazio to share his favorite scripture, I was really interested to see what he was going to pic since he is so new to the church. This is what he picked, 2 Nephi 31: 

 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the agate, by which they should enter, he having set the bexample before them.
 10 And he said unto the children of men: aFollow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we bfollow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
 11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father agive the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, bfollow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

It was powerful as he explained that this is what he is doing now in his life. He also expressed his love for the Savior. How amazing it is to see the change in him! This is why I'm serving a mission.

Well that's about it! It's almost Christmas time! Tomorrow I go to pick up my "permesso" to live in the country, so I won't be an illegal immigrant anymore! Just kidding. Anyways I love you all! I can't wait to say it on the telephone! 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 this holiday season! Don't forget why we celebrate Christmas, and think about the importance of Jesus Christ in our life. Have a great and safe week, I'll talk to you very, very soon! Vi voglio tanto bene!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Over 2,500 views!

The blog now has over 2,500 views!  Thank you to everyone for your interest in and support of Clay's missionary service.  We get to talk to him in a few days!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Transfer in Olbia!‏

Buon Giorno!

As you all already know we are going to be here for Christmas! Everyone, members and other elders predicted that one of us was going to get booted off the island for sure, but, we are doing another together and we are very excited. I think I'll move around a lot the rest of my mission since I will have been in Olbia for so long. It's been another great week! I can't believe how fast this transfer went by, mamma mia! 

Just a little update with investigators. Unfortunately, Ignazio won't be baptized this weekend. It is for the better though so maybe I shouldn't say unfortunately. We talked to him and he said tearfully that he didn't feel ready. We stressed for him not to worry but that this date was a goal. He said that he knows that after the holidays he will be ready. We haven't fixed another date yet, but we have a lesson tonight so we will talk to him about it. Last night we had family home evening at his house and it was awesome because for the lesson everyone shared their conversion stories; His wife, his mother-in-law, Carlos Villegas, and Claudio Branca. People were crying, it was beautiful, and and the spirit was definitely there. I think it was really good for Ignazio to hear all that and get excited for his baptism. He's loving the Gospel and he is still progressing well. 

The Tache's are doing pretty good. We haven't seen Ionel in forever because he picked up a second job but Iona came to church so that was nice. She still reads the Book or Mormon everyday and loves to tell us about the things she reads. We've been trying to see Lino and Giovanna in Calangianus but they are pretty busy. We have an appointment set up for Friday and they are excited to see us again so we are hoping that all goes well! That's pretty much the update on investigators! Keep praying for them!

We found this new zone of houses that we didn't really realize before that is close to this huge supermarket that is kind of like the Italian version of Walmart. Well we've been doing a lot of finding there. We got really lucky because it started raining one day. When it rains, it is miserable when it is already really humid, but people generally feel a little bad for you, which is nice. Well we started ringing and knocking, and on the speakers we heard a kid yell "Non ce nessuno!" (There isn't anyone here) but the gate opened. We were a bit confused and then a lady walked out. She asked who we were, we gave her the spill, but she said she wasn't interested. She then felt bad that it was raining and invited us in for a minute. Go rain! Well it turns out that her ten year old son had friends over, and was expecting another friend so he answered the door like that as a joke. Well like usual, this woman, Giulietta thought we were J.W.s at first, but was fascinated that we were Americans. She was also really interested in our church. She asked a bunch of questions, and we taught her a part of the first lesson. She is a very active catholic, but she doesn't like a few things about the church. We gave her a Book of Mormon and scheduled to come back again. We have a lot of hope for her and I'll keep you informed on how things go. 

On Thursday we were invited to a birthday party for one of the little girls in the Basignana family. It was at McDonalds in this little wannabe mall complex in Olbia. We were a little confused on why we were invited to a nine-year-old birthday party, but it turns out that Sister Basignana had brought us to talk to all of her friends who were the parents of the kids that attended. It was funny because we were the life of the party with the adults! They were asking a lot of questions about the church, and hopefully something will come from it someday!

A little bit of success we saw was a less active come back to church! She has been a member forever, and we have been visiting her a lot, but she finally came! Members were really excited to see her and we hope that she stays active. She fed us one of the best dinners I have had since I've been here so that was pretty memorable. 

As far as the language goes it's getting a lot better! We speak almost all Italian outside of the house and we are even trying to switch to Italian inside the house too so we can get this language down! The members make fun of me and we joke because I always write down funny terms or new words I learn when we speak! It's pretty funny but I hope I can get a descent Italian accent down this next year and a half.

Well that was the week! I'm sorry this email is a little all over the place, but it's hard to write down all my thoughts sometimes! This next transfer is going to be a lot of fun and we have a lot of hope for it. We'll definitely see Ignazio's baptism and I'm feeling a few more! Thanks for everything you guys do for me. Not long now until Christmas and we get to talk! 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. Have a great week! Vi voglio bene!

Con gran'affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sei mesi nella missione!‏

Well tomorrow is the six month mark and I can't believe it! And just a
few weeks until I get to talk to you all! I'm loving this Christmas
season here in Italy. There are lights being put up everywhere around
Olbia and it looks beautiful. I'll have to send pictures soon! Well
this has been a great week as usual and I've enjoyed every minute of

Ignazio is progressing great as usual. He is still preparing for his
baptism that is coming up quickly. He is so ready, but we are just
hoping that he personally feels ready so keep praying for him! We have
another lesson tonight so I am really excited for that. We had Family
Home Evening with them last night and he is getting so much more
knowledgeable in the Gospel as he participates in discussions and
makes very insightful comments. He is such a great man!
I want to start off with a sweet story. When we did splits with the
assistants Anziano Banks and I found a man named Lino. He said that it
wasn't a good time and to come back a later day. Well, that is an
excuse that we always get from people, and when we return they tell us
they aren't interested, or say to come back again because they are
still busy. Unfortunately, I didn't think anything of it at first. On
Friday we went back to Calangianus (where we had found him) and had
lunch with the Branca Family, and then went out and began working. As
we were leaving Alessio joked and said, "I won't give you a ride back
to Olbia if you don't find three new investigators." We set out and
began knocking. As we were searching I had a feeling that we should go
see this Lino guy. The only problem was that I forgot where he lived.
I usually do a good job with writing down addresses but the night we
found him was foggy and dark and I didn't write it down. So we just
starting walking. We went down a street that I thought was it and I
decided to knock on a random door. Well, it wasn't him, and it was
actually someone that I remember quite distinctly because she yelled
at us a few weeks before for knocking. So that was fun! I asked her if
she knew where Lino lived and she said his house was right next door
(all these houses on this particular street look the same). I was only
one off so we went and knocked. A woman answered the door and we told
her who are and asked if Lino was home. She said that he just got back
from work and she invited us in. We saw Lino and he was happy to see
us. We sat down and began breaking the ice. Everything was very
natural and quick, but we taught them the first lesson, gave them
invites to pray and to read the Book of Mormon, and then set up a
return appointment. We have two new investigators! Lino and Giovanna.
They are both solid and I have high hopes for them. We still need to
get to know them better to find out clues and teach to their needs,
but they seem to have really been prepared to hear the Gospel! When we
go back to Calangianus this week we will see them again! I'm so
excited! Alessio still gave us a ride even though we only found two
new investigators!
Other than that nothing else has really happened with other

Other than finding Lino and Giovanna it's been a pretty average week. I bore my
testimony in church just in case I get booted off the island in a few
weeks. The members said that I have progressed well in the language so
that was nice hearing compliments from them. On Sunday night we had a
ton of fun finding people. Our goal is to find two potential
investigators a day. Well we went to this new area and we found six
potentials! Everyone was really nice and some of them have some really
great potential.
On Monday the Anziani from Sassari came for district meeting, so that
was fun. I'm trying to think of more exciting things to write about!
Oh, some little kid who thought we were Jehovah Witnesses threw a rock
at me from off a balcony and it hit me straight on the head. I didn't
acknowledge the fact that I had been hit to give him the satisfaction
of a perfect hit, so I completely ignored it and we walked off. Me and
my companion talked about it later and we commented on how amazing the
Savior is for not thinking one bad thought against anyone. When that
rock hit my head many negative thoughts were rolling through my head
of what I would want to do to that punk kid if I wasn't a missionary,
and I'm just glad we have the Lord's perfect example to lead us and
help us. Just a funny little story!

Well I'm sorry there aren't too many more details to write about!
Things are going great here and it's getting nice and chilly with a
bit of wind. Italians look really good in the winter with their
stylin' winter fashion. This European style is really rubbing off on
me! To finish off I want to say how much I love 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! Have a great week and I look forward to
hearing from you all again next week! We'll see if I have a transfer
call or not! Vediamo! Allora, vi voglio benissimo! Un abbraccio!
A presto,
Anziano Clay Lacey