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

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