Saturday, December 22, 2012

Over 7,000 views!

Anziano Lacey's blog went over 7,000 views last week!  Thank you for following him and supporting him during his mission in Italy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hey guys!

I'm glad everyone is doing well. I am so excited for the Skype call here in a few days! It will be so great to see you all and to talk to you all! I can't wait!

We have had a great week so far and we are working our way towards Christmas! I am so excited! We have a surprising amount of invites but we want to spend most of the time with non-members and those in particular who do not have a family or someone to spend Christmas with. We'll talk more about when we'll do the call, but it will be Christmas Eve for sure.

This week has been somewhat peculiar in Siracusa because since Thursday and ending today there has been the 'Festa di Santa Lucia': St. Lucy is the patron saint here in Siracusa so there has been a lot of festivities, processions, concerts, etc. It was neat though because nearly everyone (or it seemed like everyone) in Siracusa all gathered at the city center where they carried a gigantic beautiful silver statue of this saint through the city from the cathedral to another church that shares her name. 

We said goodbye to Stefania on Friday and she is really excited to be going to America. She wants to stop by in Apple Valley and say 'hey' to you guys when she goes from L.A. to Vegas! I was jealous that she might hug you guys before I do!!! We had a really nice last visit with her and I'm thankful for the friendship that we have made and that will continue. After our visit with her we were invited to a presentation of a book relating to the problems and history of Tibet. 

Our investigator Giuseppe is doing well and making a lot of progress! We have almost got him to church... But it is really hard for him! Pazienza! 

On Sunday we had a miracle happen! A lady named Ida from English course showed up to church! We had invited her awhile ago and then she had never came, but then she randomly showed up and it went very well! She loved church so much and was very interested in everything. Sunday night at five o'clock we were waiting in church for an appointment with a contact that wasn't coming, and then all of a sudden Ida showed up, asking questions about the Book of Mormon I gave her in church a few hours before! We had a great lesson with her (she even brought 2 friends) and I actually just heard from her and we'll have a lesson with her tomorrow! Things look very positive with her and I'm very excited!

Yesterday was a bit sad because we went to the funeral of a less active'.s wife who passed away. He was very happy to see us there, and it makes me feel content that we have already been seeing him often so we have a great friendship that will be nurtured especially during this difficult time for him. He is 87 years old so this loss will be very tough on him but he seems to handling it well.

We sung carols at a convalescent home with the youth and it was a great experience. I made it a goal to speak to and salute every resident in that home and I'm glad I did because I talked to some very beautiful people. One man that will celebrate his 100th birthday tomorrow! One lady that reminded me of an Italian version of Grandma Lacey said that I reminded her of one of her sons and she began crying and clung unto my hand. It was such a beautiful little moment and I'm so glad for little acts of service we have and to do things that the Savior would do.

We have a few other appointments and I have to go! We are really busy but I'll get back to you soon and let you know for the Skype call! 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! I'll talk to you on Monday!!!

Con affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another great week

Hey guys!

This has been another great week and things are going great! We had our zone conference yesterday and it went very well. I'm the oldest zone leader now in Sicily so I felt very under pressure but it turned out well and we had a great time. 

On Wednesday night us and the missionaries from Catania got together here in Siracusa and saw the ballet, The Nutcracker, for the first time! It was done by a famous Russian group so it was way good and I really enjoyed it. President always jokes about how missionaries have a 'missionary entertainment deficiency disorder' so I was glad he approved it for us! We also get to watch two Disney or Disney-like movies for Christmas. Any suggestions?

Our investigators are doing well. Stefania has been coming to church regularly and reading from the Book of Mormon daily. Unfortunately she is leaving this week on Sunday and she's probably going to live in America and find work there. I'm happy for her and for this new opportunity in her life but I'll miss her! She will be living in California and she said that on her way to Vegas she might stop by and say hey to you guys!

We have been working a lot with less-actives and one is starting to come back to church! Another came to church on Sunday and we had a nice visit with her and her family on Monday night. Two of her children aren't baptized yet so we are hoping that we can begin to work with them and help this family out! We have already received three invites for Christmas so we might have a fun and busy day! 

We were invited to go to an activity at a Catholic church for a program for youth uniting the world. It was a project for young adults from 17-30 and we had the opportunity to speak at it and get to know a lot of youth around Sicily and even have a lot that will go to various English courses that missionaries do throughout the island. It was a great experience!

I'll just make a small mention: I hit 18 months in the mission on Saturday I just realized... crazy!!!

We had a lunch invite after church and this member brought one of her friends and we had a great afternoon with him, and after our spiritual thought he said he might be interested to take the lessons. He is a very nice man from Argentina and he's already come to church a few times and to the family home evenings in church. That night we all went together to see the First Presidency Christmas devotional and he really enjoyed it. 

Like I said, the conference went well. It was obviously Christmas themed, and every missionary in Italy got the same tie. It is really nice and I'll send the group picture of all of our zone wearing it when I get it! My training was on finding work and we had a great time demonstrating different finding techniques but most of all using this Christmas season as an advantage to try and find new investigators and to profit out of these many visits we'll have with members to try to get referrals. The things that stressed me out the most was getting things prepared for lunch to feed 40 people, and in the end it all worked out except the fact that I didn't tell anyone to bring a knife to cut the honey baked ham, so you can imagine the funny scene of us sawing away at a giant ham with plastic forks! Other than that it turned out perfectly though.

I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and support with everything. 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! I can't wait to give you a call here soon! Have a great week and stay safe! Love you!!!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Roma di nuovo!

Hey guys! I'm glad everyone is doing good! Thank you for the encouraging words and the prayers throughout the week. I love you all so much!

This has been a bit of a crazy week because of traveling to Rome, zone leader conference, and traveling back. I had one of the craziest travel opportunities taking every form of transportation except bicycle and horseback. We left for Catania on Wednesday and ate lunch there with the other missionaries, then we took the bus again up to Messina where there was a lot of wind and a storm so the small boat we took across the Messina straight was rocked across the sea like crazy! When we finally got across we landed in Villa San Giovanni and then took a train to Reggio Calabria where we ate a pizza with the Anziani there and then finally got some sleep at their place. We woke up early, got a ride from a member to the airport and flew all the way to Rome. It was very, very cold and rainy, but I love flying so much and enjoyed every minute of it. 

When in Rome we waited for the other Sicilian Z.L.'s but there was a problem with Anziano Nelson from Sardegna who needed to bring some luggage for a different missionary. The machine that unloads the plane broke apparently so we had to wait an extra hour at the airport. They told us to take the train from the airport to the city center instead of being picked up in the van because the gate to the mission home was broken and couldn't open, so the vehicles inside were impossible to take out except by complete annihilation of the gate (you should see the size of the mission van... it's called a 'furgone' in Italian). 

The airport is only about an hour by car from the mission home (Rome is gigantic), and the little train would only be about a fifteen minute ride. Usually, at the end of the month (and we were in the latter days) missionaries are generally out of money. The train tickets would have cost £70 for all of us! It was ridiculous so we called the assistants and we worked it out to get a ride from other missionaries with cars. Because of the weather, everyone was late to the mission home, but although all the problems we faced and the stress of travel, we were all happy to enjoy each others company and we ate a delicious lunch prepared by Sister Kelly.

The conference was great and we had some great discussions regarding the work and things we need to do to improve the zones. President leaves a little bit of time at the end to ask questions about anything we want (it is titled 'trunk talk') that usually involves deep doctrine and marriage, and other after mission subjects. The funniest one I heard was a missionary who asked if there was something different we needed to do for the 21st of this month. President was very confused and asked, "Is that that Mayan calender thing?" The way he said it was hilarious and you have to know Pres and his sense of humor! It was a much needed conference and we found out that there will be a general authority that will visit our mission in January! I can't wait to find out who it will be!

Our zone conference will be next week on Tuesday so we have a lot to do to get prepared. 

We returned to Siracusa doing the exact same trip we made before that took up nearly the whole day. The best part about traveling though was meeting and talking to people. I find such great pleasure in talking and meeting new people as we go around. One of the ladies I talked to while going to Catania became a new investigator on Monday! She, Gabriella, was very interested in the Church and she is really searching the truth as she goes and researches other churches. Her faith in Christ has grown exponentially throughout the past couple of years because of the help and comfort she's received while her twelve year old son was found to have a brain tumor. Now everything is well, but hearing her recount her experiences and love of God as she was in tears was very touching. She said she looks forward to coming to church!

I'm out of time but that's basically the sum up of the week! Things are going great and I can't wait to soak up yet another Christmas in Italy. I know it will be a fantastic experience! 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 and stay safe and strong! Che Dio vi benedica! Vi voglio tanto bene. Un abbraccio forte!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hey guys! How's it going???

I'm very glad that everyone is doing well! Thank you so much for your emails and encouraging words of support and love!

Things are still moving along great here in Siracusa and I love the people and the city. I might have to be quick today because we are leaving Sicily for a bit to go to Reggio Calabria where I'll take a plane tomorrow morning for Rome. I am really excited and it should be a great conference like usual. 

This week has been fantastic and rather busy, but productive. We have been working really hard to find new investigators, but it seems like it's been a bit of a tough spot for everyone in the zone. It will pass and we'll keep going on diligently! 

Anziano Smit had a little tooth problem so we had to go to Catania on Thanksgiving because there is a dentist there that the Church really trusts. We might have to go back again, but it looks like everything is okay. For English course we had a little party to celebrate Thanksgiving with all the English course students and we had a great time. We bought pizza and everyone else brought snacks, drinks, and desert. We have some amazing people come to our courses and I love them so much! This older man who comes frequently was so excited to introduce me to his wife and she talked about how much he loves us and enjoys our company. I would love to teach English as a job; I find a lot of pleasure in it!

We have also been also meeting with our bishop often, and coordinating the work together has gone well.b

Sunday was a lot of fun. On Saturday there was a 'SuperSabato' event for the youth where all the youth in Sicily came to Siracusa. They stayed the night and I was asked to teach a class in church for all the priests about mission preparation. We did sacrament with them and we all had a lot of fun. We ate lunch with all of them and I made a ton of new friends with the youth all over Sicily. 

Italy has changed some laws around and has made it a little more difficult to get the residence permits, and on Monday we had this appointment for Anziano Smit. This tall young man walked in and I knew right away that he wasn't Italian. As he was going through the process I heard him say, "This is so boring" and I asked where he was from. He said North Carolina and he is a high school junior on a study abroad program. On our way back from Catania on Thursday we met all the rest of the kids in his program from all over the U.S. and we had a fun time chatting. These girls said that they are going to buy me a bunch of American stuff from the American base in Catania so I can't wait to get some Starbursts and root beer. I haven't had root beer since the MTC! Italians think it's gross unfortunately.. Anyways we asked this guy, Isaac, if he wanted to go get a pizza sometime and he glady excepted and then said that he would really like to know more about the church too. I guess the recent presidential elections have sparked some interest.

Yesterday was an amazing day. We went to a spot where we found out lived a bunch of less-actives, and we began searching. We had some luck and some return appointments, and as we walked near the sea I saw the strangest thing ever. It looked like a giant boat that was sinking near the coast. Not believing my eyes we decided to go see what it was, and in fact, it was a boat that ten months or so earlier had crashed into a cliff on the coastline during a storm. It was one of the craziest things I've ever seen. It was very random and we found it by chance. It is a little hard to miss, I guess you could say, but in a remote part of town. 

Last night we had another great English course and had fun doing role play, and we had a special family home evening. Usually there is a spiritual thought, and then a game. Our ward mission leader, Christian, the week before asked Giovanna if she'd like to share something, and she was so happy to be involved. She gave one of the best spiritual thoughts ever, and everyone was really touched by the things she shared. 

I love you all so much! I hope I can do something fun in Rome and take a great picture. Speaking of pictures you all looked so beautiful in the family pictures! Thank you so much for including me in there! I love you! 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 un sacco di bene!

Un abbraccio forte!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Good Morning!

Buongiorno tutti!

Hey guys how are you doing? I'm am doing very well here in Siracusa and I'm enjoying so much my time here. I'm glad I'll be here for Christmas to be with these great friends for my last Christmas away from home. This has been another fantastic week! Lately I've been choosing different Scriptures as themes for each transfer and for this one I picked John 8: 31-32. I think the words are so powerful when Christ says "...the truth will make you free." 

On Wednesday night this lady from Salt Lake came to Siracusa because the Church is continuing the Bible videos of the New Testament and they want to do a lot of filming here in Sicily near Trapani. There were a lot of people who came to audition, including non-members, so we had a great opportunity to talk to those who had questions about the church. It's funny though because there are a ton of members in the ward who have been growing out their beards to play these roles so it is very strange to see them in sacrament meeting. It's like we are going back to the times when everyone had beards! I had the chance to talk to this lady from Salt Lake about the church's film program and she gave me some great advice and some numbers and emails of people I can call when I'll start thinking about these things. 

Since Sorella Rosato, who is serving in Catania, needed to wait for her new companion to come down to the island, she had been with the sisters here in Siracusa. She is from northern Italy and she is one of the funniest people alive! We had so much fun, especially when we all ate together and she did an 'intense' language study with us. 

Investigators are doing well and we did pretty well with teaching the last week, especially with members present. Riccardo came to church for the first time so that went well. We had a historic stake conference here in Sicily because it was the first time that they did the conference through live broadcasting. They held the conference in Catania and other major churches around the island received the transmission. It went very well and there weren't many technical difficulties like sometimes you could imagine with those kinds of things.

Giuseppe has also been doing very well and is making progress. The only bummer is that he hasn't come to church yet. According to me that is the only thing that is keeping him from receiving the answer he needs. A young adult in our ward who served a mission, Fabio, came with us to the last lesson and it went very well. We had a kneeling prayer at the end, and I find that those are more powerful. 

Stefania and Giovanna are both also doing very well and Stefania has been reading frequently still in the Book of Mormon. Our main focus this transfer is getting referrals, and I might have mentioned that in an earlier email, but it's been great as we've visited members and less actives, give them materials, and find those who are searching the truth.

I had a cool experience on Monday. We randomly got a phone call from a young man in our ward and he asked if he could see us during lunch, so we met him at a bar (again, Italian bars aren't like American one's). We met him, asked what he needed, and he just wanted to spend time with us. You can tell that he is a little troubled, and it must be tough being the only member of the church in an entire high school. We ate, hung out during our lunch break time, and had a nice visit altogether as he asked us questions about the mission. Little things like that are so special because I can help someone in a small way just by being a friend. 

Anziano Smit is doing so well! Last night he gave a whole spiritual thought by himself at the family home evening, and everyone is really impressed with how fast he has been learning the language. He has been doing great and we have a lot of fun together!

In the end things are good and we are working hard to find new investigators. We are going to really use this Christmas season to invite others to really bring Christ into their lives. I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and all the help and support you give me! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, I love you Greg. Have a great week! Un abbraccio! Vi voglio bene!!!

Con affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sarò a Siracusa per Natale!

Hey guys! 

This has been another great week as usual. Even though it's been a little up and down, there are always positive and beautiful things we can find in life, right? First off, we got the transfer calls on Saturday and everyone in Siracusa is staying! That means I'll be here for sure for Christmas and I couldn't be more happy about that! I love Siracusa!

Unfortunately we're not able to teacher Sabrina and her family anymore. Her husband is opposed to the church and the fact that she wanted to be baptized so there was quite a mess for the member family we were teaching her with. It is really sad and discouraging because her and her son have such a strong desire to be baptized, but we need to just continue to pray for them and have patience and everything will turn out alright.

Things are going great with other investigators and it's cool to see that most of them were found thanks to English course. We try to teach them before and after so usually our Tuesdays and Thursdays are pretty busy but I enjoy it so much. We had a fun time playing the 'murder mystery' game. Some people really got into it and dressed up, so that made things more fun.

We've been focusing a lot more on getting referrals. It is definitely the best way to get new investigators and we have need of some right now! It's interesting to see that in the back of Preach My Gospel the only point that is in bold is the part that says that we must ask for referrals from everyone. We have great members here and they are doing a great job with sharing the gospel with friends, especially a few families in particular.

There is a member whose wife is not active and a little against the church. He has a fifteen year old daughter and an eight year old son, but the wife won't let them be baptized. This member is absolutely an amazing man and we've made a great friendship. We are working together to really help his family in general so that they can all have the same vision together.

There is another great member that is from Africa and doesn't know how to read Italian. She is a single mother of five and we all have so much fun together when we go visit. She just went through the temple for the first time and our stake president gave her a few things to study so we are helping her study that to understand better the importance of the temple. It makes me miss the temple so much more!

When talking with people and doing finding work we have really been focused on discussing with everyone the importance of the family, and even sharing the principle of family home evening. We have found some pretty good success with that and we are determined to find another family to teach. We have been getting close so it's bound to happen soon! I'm hopeful!

I think I've mentioned this before but I'm trying to really dive down into the Sicilian culture and I love it so much. I especially love their accent and so I try to copy the way they say things. We were invited to see a Siracusano puppet show that is a huge cultural tradition. It was so much fun and amazing to see the talent that the puppeteers have to make the puppets move like real actors.

I know that this is very random and strange, but I bought a ukulele. I think Morgan's picture in Hawaii inspired me a bit, so every week on p-day for the next seven months I'm going to put a little bit of effort into learning how to play it! We'll see how it goes!

I can't believe it's almost Christmas! It's going to be so much fun when we can talk! I love and miss 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. Have a great week! Let me know if you need anything. Vi voglio tanto tanto bene! Ci sentiamo presto! Buona settimana!

Con amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Una bella giornata a Noto!

Hey guys!

This has been another great week and I love Siracusa so much. I'd be cool staying here the rest of my mission. I love everything about it, the people, the environment, everything. Things have been really great though.

The Conforto family in our ward has twins, Riccardo and Andrea who just turned 14. The parents wanted to throw a Halloween themed party, so we helped them decorate and get everything prepared. We were invited to come on Thursday night and we even had an investigator, another guy named Riccardo, come and get to know the members. We had a lot of fun and they made me in charge of the games. We did the one where you put a piece of gum on a plate, and then cover it with flour and everyone needs to dig around in their own respective plates to find the gum, chew it, and then blow a bubble. It was pretty hilarious!

On Saturday we went up to Catania where I did my first baptismal interview! It was a great experience and I learned a lot from it. The candidate is very well prepared and ready for his baptism that will take place this week. It made me happy to see the joy in his face when I told him that he was ready.

Okay, the girls might kill me again for this one: We met with Giovanna again, and then after she invited us out to eat some sandwiches. Well, I love to dive down into the culture within different cities, and apparently horse meat sandwich is a Siracusano specialty, therefore I ate horse again, and it was great. I really enjoy horse meat! You're going to need to hide the horses from me when I come home! I might get hungry.

I got an amazing phone call from the Anziani in Bitonto. I think I might have mentioned it, but when I went up to Rome to go pick up Anziano Smit and everyone else heading down to Sicily, I talked to a man, Salvatore, and got his number and gave it to the Anziani living near his city. Well they called me and said that he now has a baptismal date for December! I am really excited for him!

I started a trend on Sunday. I went up to share my testimony in Sacrament meeting, and I spoke of a man I met in Sardegna that didn't have family, work, nearly nothing, yet anytime I asked how he was doing he replied, "Benone!" and was always very happy. I had never heard that word before and I searched dictionaries trying to find it to know what it meant. Being rather new in the mission I didn't know much about a grammatical trick you can use to add words onto adjectives to make them more enhanced. Well 'benone' means 'very good' and the fact that he always was positive no matter what really has stood out to me throughout my mission. I shared this with the members and how me need to always be examples, even in being positive and cheerful despite trails and difficulties. After that, whenever I talk to some members and ask how they are, they always reply. 'benone!' with a smile. I like this new little joke, and I think it's starting to liven people up a bit!

We had several dinner appointments this week, including one with the stake president of Sicily! We had a great time with them and he gave us some great advice about what we can do to strengthen members.

Probably the highlight of the week has been our experiences with a new great friend and investigator named Stefania. She comes to English course because she is getting ready to go to California for three months, so she wants to improve her English even though she already speaks great. She came to church on Sunday and the members were all very welcoming. We did a lesson with her and then another one before English course last night and she's already moving right along in The Book of Mormon being in the third chapter! As a little joke and to make people laugh I am learning a little bit of the dialect, Siciliano, so I say random phrases in dialect to put a smile on some one's face as they see a pathetic American trying to speak their native language! Stefania is so nice and bought me a Sicilian grammar book!

English course is going very well and we have so many students that show up. As a fun little activity we will play a 'murder mystery dinner party game' to help them do some problem solving, thinking, and conversation all in English. They are all coming dressed up or disguised as new people, and we will all play parts and figure out 'who the murderer is'. I think I might go as Leonardo DiCaprio! Haha

Today we had a fun p-day with all the missionaries in Siracusa, Ragusa, and Gela, and we went to a beautiful little city just south of Siracusa called Noto. We explored all the antique churches, historical sites, and in the end just enjoyed each other's company since it's likely that Anziano Green and Sorella Dall might be getting booted off the island!

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 un sacco di bene!

Un abbraccio,

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hey guys!

Thanks for the awesome emails and I'm glad that everyone is doing well!

This has been a great and busy week. Although we had to hurry things up, especially in preparation for the trainings, zone conference went well. President is such an inspired man and he knows everything we as missionaries need to hear in order to be more prepared and overcome our challenges. Little things I've heard in this conference, sacrament meeting, and other things people have been saying have really been helping me realize things we can do for our investigators and it's wonderful to see how the Spirit really helps inspire our thoughts.

We've been finding recent success with two families through genealogy work. They have been so impressed with the organization of the church that we've set some more appointments for this week to talk about our beliefs so we are hoping that they become new investigators.

Unfortunately we haven't yet met with Sabrina and Christian because of zone conference and the Scamporrino family went out of town and are visiting family in Venice. We are still really excited to see them and help them grow closer to God.

Oscar Reali is a ward member here who has been such a huge support and help with missionary work. Like I said before he received his mission call to Manchester, England, and we've had a great week with him and the members as we've said goodbye. It has helped me to remember the same emotions and excitement that I felt as I prepared to leave. We had a family home evening with a good half of the ward there where we said 'goodbye' all together and then this morning we came here early to church where we said goodbye after he was set apart. He has been such a great friend and I'm going to miss him but I know that the fact that he is serving will be a huge blessing for the ward and most of all for his family.

On Saturday we had a great lesson with Giovanna from English course. She is such a great person and was very open to hear the message of the Restoration.  The Spirit was very strong in the lesson and we could tell that she felt it. We finished the lesson with a kneeling prayer that she offered that was very powerful. She works in humanitarian aid and goes around the world with her work and is seriously one of the coolest people I've ever met. She is one of my best of friends here in Siracusa. There was an Ensign or Liahona article that spoke of sharing the Gospel by sharing yourself which really stuck out to me. It also came up in a great talk that a member gave in sacrament meeting. One thing that I am loving so much about the mission are the friendships I'm making. For example, Giovanna with her family and friends took me and Anziano Smit out to see a piano concert which was great! These friendships I'm making all over the country are one of my greatest treasures of the mission. I still hear from friends in Sardegna which makes me grateful that Italy is now officially a big part of my life. 

Speaking of the piano concert, I am either really deprived in entertainment, or I just discovered that I absolutely love the piano. During the mission I've been learning the piano a bit and can somewhat play a few hymns.

We have been visiting a lot of member families and we received a random invite from a brother who is the only member in his family. We had a great lunch with him, his wife, and their nineteen year old son, and they all really enjoyed the spiritual thought at the end. Who knows, maybe something will spark like is did with Ignazio Mazzone back in Olbia!

Okay, funny story real quick: Giuseppe, one of our investigators who is making slow, yet important progress invited us out to eat pizza at a fancy restaurant in the middle of Ortigia close to the Duomo. As we were walking back there was a group of three guys with their dirty, shaggy dogs that are homeless playing a drum and guitar. Giuseppe knows one of them because he helped him get to rehab a few weeks ago (they get drunk, play, and wait for people to give them money). Anyways, as Giuseppe was talking to them, one of the dogs peed on the slope of the sidewalk they were sitting on and it started flowing down towards us... like a river. We dogged the incoming liquid, it went past us and then formed into a large puddle a few feet away from us (there was a lot and it was a big dog). By this time we had joined the conversation and we turned around later to find a group of loud, vulgar young ladies gathered in that very puddle, jumping around, joking and goofing around, probably waiting for their boyfriends. I turned to my companion and said, "Should we tell them?" Just then a girl realized that her feet were wet, looked at the puddle, and then followed it all the way up to where the dog was. When things 'clicked' she screamed in disgust. It was a real mess when all the girls found out and me and Anziano Smit couldn't help but die of laughter when they had ran off.

I love the mission! It makes you laugh hard, along with all those spiritual moments too! 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. Have a great week! I love you all so much!

Con amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cara Famiglia

Hey guys! Buongiorno!

It has been another great week here in Siracusa! Wednesday night of last week we made it to Trapani, slept there, and in the morning I got my Permesso di Soggiorno (residence permit), and we headed straight back. About ten hours of bus riding all for a fifteen minute process! But my Permesso is good for another two years so I can extend my mission for a third year and still be legal if I wanted!

The best part about the trip was seeing Sergio Valenti, the man who I was teaching and got baptized a week after I had left. I called him and we organized for a small moment to meet when I had arrived Wednesday night. We were so happy to see each other and I can't begin to describe the change that I saw in him. He is 100x more happy, and seemed like a new, more improved version of himself. He loves the Gospel so much and he openly acknowledges the change that it had made in his life. He loves the church and now he's preparing to enter the temple. There is nothing better than having someone legitimately thank you, and say humbly: I love you.

I saw other friends from Trapani just walking around the city, and I even stopped by an old investigator's house who was a tailor for Armani suits and is super rich. The branch president even came to find me as I waited for the government office to open to take my Permesso. It was a very nice trip in the end!

We went to Lentini, a city about 45 minutes outside of Siracusa where we set up an appointment with Sabrina, the cousin of a member who we gave the blessing to. We met at this member family's home, the Scamporrino's, and we waited for Sabrina. It was forty-five minutes past the time she was supposed to come, and the Scamporrino's were scared that she wasn't going to come. As they left the living room frantically calling her and failing to get a hold of her. When they left I quickly folded my arms, bowed my head and prayed hard that she would be able to make it! Literally when I said, "Amen" they came back and said, "She's here!"

Sabrina was so excited to see us and we had a great introductory lesson with her. Unfortunately her son Christian was at school so he couldn't make it, but we had a very spiritually powerful lesson and we invited her to be baptized on December 1st as a goal, and she accepted it if she would be ready, and she wants to be baptized with her children. She has been very impressed with the church and loves the members. After the lesson we went to the train station and waited there for awhile. The ticket machine was broken, and there was no way for us to buy tickets because we didn't have cash, so we were in a panic! We went to a bar to buy tickets, and they didn't accept cards and there wasn't an ATM anywhere close, so we were concerned because we had to get home for more appointments. The bartender was very nice and gave us the tickets anyways! It was one of the nicest gestures ever, and this week when we go back we will pay him back for sure. As we waited at the station, Sabrina came with Christian because he wanted to at least say hi to us before we left. He is such a great kid and I can't wait to teach him!

This week has been crazy because zone conference will be held on Friday instead of November 6th, so me and the other ZL's have been rushing to get things done, especially things regarding our trainings that we need to give, and organizing everything else. I guess the airport in Catania will be closed during November so we have to get things done right away! Me and Anziano Davis have prepared a great theme though, and we'll get together in Catania tomorrow night to put it all together.

Church was great and we had two investigators come. One of them, Giovanna, has been coming frequently to English course and has shown a lot of interest in the Church. She has been asking a lot of questions, especially after the spiritual thoughts in English course, and last night was her second time at the Family Home Evening the ward puts on and she loves it and she's making great friends with the members. We are praying and working hard for her too, and she is really a great friend to everyone. 

I finally met an Italian guy with the name of Ezio! A Russian tourist that is living in Malta stopped us and wanted to talk to us because she lived in Provo with a friend for a little while. She was with another Russian friend, and also with this Ezio guy that is living in Malta to improve his English. It was really funny and we got their number to give to the Malta missionaries as referrals. 

This week has been great! Crazy, but great! The work is really stepping up and the members are noticing that we are trying our best. Things are going great and everything looks positive as we help investigators, especially with Sabrina and her family. 

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! I'll talk to you soon!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Arrivederci Roma!

Hey guys!

Things are doing great here! It feels like things are getting very busy and that I'm doing a lot of traveling, but hopefully things will settle down a bit and I can focus entirely on missionary work. For example, today we leave for Trapani! I have to go back to get my Permesso di Soggiorno which allows me to live in the country. After picking it up I'll be good for the rest of my mission and won't have to worry about it anymore. I'm just bummed that it's going to take up a whole day for travels!
Rome Temple - 10/12/12
Rome was great! Everything went smoothly with getting there and I had a blast. The only thing I saw in Rome besides the mission home was the temple, and it's getting so big! When I was at the very site over a year ago there was just a giant hole, and now it's on it's way to getting finished! 
Luke and Lacey
The zone leader council was a very uplifting experience and it was a day full of learning. I met some amazing missionaries that I didn't know before and we all had so much fun together. I learned a lot from President and he is such an inspired man. Us Sicilian guys were the first to get to the Villa so I got my interview with President and got to help Sorella Kelly cook some delicious food for lunch and dinner. I was on onion cutting duty, and she had fun laughing as I cut the juiciest onions in the world and cried like a baby. We decided that we are going to make a television show called 'Cooking with Sister Kelly' because you 'feel the Spirit' so strong that it brings you to tears. 
Anziano Lacey with President and Sister Kelly
The only part that wasn't fun about the trip was almost missing the plane thanks to insane traffic on the freeway, the aftermath of a man being hit by a bus, which we saw... Not very fun.

Friday night we had a very fun activity with the ward that was a scripture jeopardy game. I was called a few weeks before to be the team captain and everyone made fun of me for the name I chose: 
Mahershalalhashbaz (a Hebrew word that means 'destruction is imminent' that you can find in the Isaiah chapter in 2 Nephi 18:1. My team loved the name however, and we won so we aren't complaining! I am really making some great relationships with members.

Our investigators are doing great and we are really trying to help them progress. We heard from the family that lives far away and who we gave the blessings to and we are collaborating to fix an appointment, but things are tough with all these travels and whatnot. Another miracle happened as we were walking home after a day of finding work in the rain. I've had the feeling to do zone t-shirts for all of the Sicilian missionaries, and there is a little t-shirt printing shop close to our house. We walked past and I thought that I should just go back a different time because I was tired, but then I felt pushed to go back. We stood outside the shop reading the signs of the kinds of prints they do, and the shop owner came out to greet us. I asked him some questions and he invited us inside, even though they were about to close. His wife was there and so was their little five year old daughter. We talked about 'business' a little bit, but then we all just hit it off and became instant friends and they poured out questions about the church to us. It turns out that a couple weeks before I tried stopping the wife, Veronica, on the street but she was busy or something so didn't have a chance to talk. They are very interested in the church and said that we can pass by again to share the message of the Restoration with them! 

We are seeing sparks of interest of the Church in our English course students. We have a few that might become investigators and our course is so big! We teach sometimes four courses now with all four of us missionaries taking a different level, and I love my intermediate students. I have about thirty who show up on a regular basis, sometimes more. We are all great friends! One guy went to Paris and got me a little souvenir of the Eiffel tower! Some of the things I'm most grateful for about the mission are the relationships and friendships I'm making with people in this wonderful country. I really hope I'll be able to afford coming back often in the future! You have no idea how much I love the Italian people.

Things are going great with training and Anziano Smit is such a stud! We have a lot of fun and we get work done. We were walking yesterday and there was a man with his dog in the park, and he had this device that looked like a giant spoon for scooping pasta or something like that. As we wondered as to what the device was, he placed a tennis ball inside it and we finally understood as I yelled, "It's a fetching launcher!" We had a good laugh from that! 

As I approach my year and a half mark I must say that I'm starting to feel this 'tiredness' that missionaries get towards the end of the mission. Me and Anziano Longhurst talked a little bit about it with the Kelly's, and they said that their son that just got back from Argentina just slept for days. They said that that was how they knew he worked hard.

Here it is for the week! I say this in almost every email and I'll keep saying it always: I love my mission! I love and thank you guys for your examples to me, and for your encouraging words and Spiritually energizing prayers! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, I love you Greg. And to anyone else who might read this, family, friends: I love you and thank you for your support and prayers! Have a great week! Vi voglio BENONE!

Con amore,

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Conferenza Generale è stata bellissima!

Hey guys!

This has been a long week (in a good way) and it feels like forever since I last wrote! Things have been going great and I love my new companion, Anziano Smit from Albuquerque New Mexico! He's the man! He has a very strong desire to work hard and despite the fact of the new time switch and being in the mission field he wants to keep going! I have to tell him to rest a bit! He is so awesome and I feel very blessed to be able to serve him.
Anziano Smit and Lacey
My trip to Rome and back was fun! The night bus I took was a little miserable just because I wasn't able to sleep at all and there was a very vulgar film playing in the background of it all! I had so much fun hanging out in the mission home with all the new missionaries, I met my 'brother' because Anziano Vitali is training again, and it was great getting some advice from President. It was a huge surprise to see Anziano Schwing because he has finished and he wrote me a very touching letter and it is neat to have a best friend in Germany! It gives me a reason to go visit someday.
Anziani Lacey, Schwing, and Luke
Everything went very smoothly on the train ride back down to Sicily and I made sure everyone got to their destinations okay. I had so much fun with the greenies as they poured questions out to me and marveled when me and Sorella Sudweeks, the new sister here with us in Siracusa, spoke Italian. We even did a little bit of missionary work despite the travels and we got a guy's number and gave it as a referral to the missionaries in Bitonto! We all had a lot of fun and I didn't sleep at all so by the time we reached Catania I was pretty dead tired and slept well. Maybe too well because every time I go to Catania I get eaten alive by mosquitoes and I woke up with a personal mission record of fifteen bites. Out of ten missionaries in the apartment that night I was the only one bitten.

Other than that Anziano Smit has been settling in well. He is doing great with the language for just being at the start, and our district here in general is so much fun! We have been together a lot this week watching general conference in English, eating lunch in between sessions, etc, so we are all becoming great friends and working well together. 
Siracusa District
Speaking of general conference, I loved it so much! The talks were all amazing and I feel like I learned something from every one. President Monson's talk on seeing others as they can become helped me change how I think when I do missionary work, Elder Nelson's on asking the missionaries helped me realize the importance and eternal significance of my calling, Elder Holland's blew me away and helped me put priorities in order concerning my obedience, loyalty and love for God, and President Uchtdorf's called me to repentance to live a life more like the Savior's and not to "wear my busyness as a badge of honor" but to purposely live and LOVE each day.

I am also so happy about the inspired change to the missionary age. I can't help to feel somewhat jealous of it, but I am grateful for the opportunity I had to work, learn, and grow before the mission. I think this will be a blessing above all to sister missionaries who wish to serve. To Morgan, Brooke, and Heather, I really recommend it! Pray to know if it is the right thing and then our Father in Heaven will open up the doors to what will be best for you in your life. I know you will receive an answer.

On Sunday night we had the Sunday morning session playing, and a member brought his cousin and her son who aren't members. The whole day since Priesthood session, I thought a lot about serving others and searching ways to serve others. I followed the counsel taught in conference to pray hard to find good deeds to do that day, and I didn't expect to receive my answer so quickly. Just to back tract a bit, this member, Fratello Scamporrino has really liked me since I remembered his birthday, and so after the session he presented his cousin, Sabrina, and her son Christian who is twelve. They loved conference so much and they actually asked us if we could give them a blessing of comfort. Another member gave Sabrina the blessing, and then she asked if I could give her son a blessing also. It was a wonderful experience as I felt the power of the Lord work through me to give this little boy the words he needed to hear, but most of all the feelings he needed to feel. After we closed in the name of Jesus Christ, Christian stood up, turned around, and straightaway reached up to grab my shoulders and gave me a hug, saying nothing. Tears filled my eyes as I felt the Savior's love for this young man, and this warm embrace touched my heart in such a beautiful way. His mother's gratitude also touched me. I found out that this time has been obviously very difficult on the family. We got their number, and they are so excited to hear the message of the Gospel, and they loved church so much and want to come again this Sunday. They live about forty-five minutes from Siracusa so we are programming how we can work with members to get rides to go teach them. What a miracle and a special moment in my mission, and in my life. Pray hard for them that they will be protected and will progress in the Gospel. 

That wasn't the end to it! After we said goodbye to them, a member wanted a healing blessing from us! And then after that, so did his daughter! And then Sister Sudweeks asked me to give her a blessing too. I have never felt so blessed to be able to serve so many people, and to give five blessings after such a wonderful day of hearing the words of prophets. I felt like the luckiest missionary in the world! 

Investigators are doing well, and I'm determined to be more of an 'inviter'. I like to follow the example of how Peter taught, that is really bring the Spirit as you teach, and invite them to be baptised! Right away! There is a lot of power in that, and you can measure an investigator's progress based on their responses. Last night we gave a 'soft' invite (asking someone if they would be baptized when they came to know the truth of these things, without a specific date or anything) to Riccardo, our twenty year old investigator, and know we know how we can go about teaching based on his answer, which wasn't yes, or no.

There's the news for the week! Tonight we go to Catania because I'm taking a plane up to Rome for zone leader council early Thursday morning and will be flying back on Friday. I am very excited! Hanging out in the beautiful mission home with the other ZL's and President and Sorella Kelly almost sounds like a vacation! I also get to finally spend twenty-four hours in Rome! I'll let you know how it all goes. 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! Have a great week and stay safe! Vi voglio un sacco di bene!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sono un Babbo!

Buongiorno tutti!

Hey guys! I'm excited to let you know that I am TRAINING! I couldn't be more excited, and I am so grateful for this chance to serve with a new missionary. I have some really exciting news too. I actually have the rare opportunity to go up to Rome and get him! Actually, I'm getting about four greenies and another sister and bringing some down to Sicily, and dropping one off in Catanzaro. So tonight we go to Catania, take an all night bus with five other missionaries to Rome, we'll get there at about six o'clock in the morning, and then we'll meet at the mission home at about seven. There I'll meet my greenie, get other people on their buses, and then take my travel group to the train station where we'll take the train back down to Catania. Basically I'll be traveling for about twenty-four hours straight, but I'm not complaining! I think it will be fun! Anziano Luke made me laugh when he told me about when they ran the plan past President. President said, "Ew, I wouldn't want to make Anziano Lacey do that! That's rough!". Anziano Luke replied and said, "It's okay, he would want to do it!" So I have a fun (little) trip to Rome and back within a day or so. I'm excited for the opportunity to help these new missionaries.

Since today will be a little crazy I don't have a ton of time to write, so I'll be quick:

Wednesday night we played some soccer with some members and English course students. One English course student who is twenty years old is interested in the Gospel, and he actually became a new investigator this week after a lesson we did with him and another member who is about to leave on his mission. Other than that, work has been a little slow with a few lessons here and there with other investigators because transfer weeks are like that. I really do look forward to how things will roll next transfer though. I think we will be very busy, which is a good thing!

We did the 'mostra' proselyting technique again on Sunday night and it went well. We had four members show up to actually help with the work and a lot more that came to say 'ciao' at the end like last time which was nice. I love the members here so much. We have really been pushing hard to invite everyone, English course students, investigators, random people on the street, etc. to come to General Conference. I am so excited and I've been preparing to hear it for weeks now! The mission has really changed my attitude on how I prepare, watch, and put into practice the things I learn in General Conference. What a blessing it is!

Sorella Hicks in my district and who was in my zone back in Sardegna is finishing her mission so we all had a fun lunch together in church after district meeting and I prepared a little training just for her talking about life. She has been a huge example to me of being diligent all the way to the end. Yes, she's tired because she has worked her hardest, and she keeps on seeking improvement to the end.

I can't believe I haven't told you all about Mattia! There is a member family with which we are very close to, and they have a little two year old boy named Mattia who is my best friend! He only knows my name and screams. "Anthiano Lashy!" He is so cute and yesterday we ate lunch with them and his mother told me he waited at the door for more than an hour until we arrived. I'll send you some pics but he's pretty much the cutest kid alive!

That's about it for the week. I'm sorry it's a bit of a short email and not very detailed, but I'll let you know how my little voyage goes! I love you all so much! Thank you for all you do! 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 and a safe week! Vi voglio una galassia di bene!

Con amore,

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hey guys!
Picture of Clay while writing emails this morning...
This has been another great week and it's hard to believe that this transfer is almost over. We already get transfer calls this Saturday and it will be interesting as always to see what happens. Thank you for you emails and I am so happy that everyone is doing great.

We have been blessed to find three new investigators this week and they are all three really amazing people. One guy named Sergio is a police officer who was a referral from the sisters. They asked him if he could take a picture for them on a preparation day, he agreed, and then after they talked to him about the Gospel. We had a great lesson with him Sunday afternoon and he is a really smart guy. He is also a martial arts trainer and he is extremely buff - and randomly taught me how to throw a punch and made me a thirty minute work out routine to do in the morning. He has a very strong faith in God and we can definitely expect miracles as we teach him. He is the man! 

We really cracked down on English course publicity and there are so many students that are coming! All three courses, basic, intermediate, and advanced are packed and we have a lot of fun. I teach intermediate and the students I have are absolutely fantastic. After English course we did a spiritual thought, and then invited everyone to stay for the family home evening that we put on in church every Tuesday night. It was a miracle because three people stayed! One from my course that stayed is named Riccardo and we have hit it off right away. He is my same age and we have a great friendship. For family home evening there was a spiritual thought, a game, and then a snack and he really enjoyed it. Talking to him after he said that the things we talked about weren't different at all to that which he believes, and then asked the golden question if he could find out more. We set an appointment for tomorrow night after the English course and we'll play soccer with him, a few members, less actives, and more contacts tonight. Miracles!

We had a very special experience happen the other night. We were walking back home at the close of the day and we walked past two men who were speaking English and I asked them where they were from. We started a conversation and it turns out that they are both from different parts of Africa, but were working in Libya before the chaos started happening. Now, after this war, they are refugees in Italy. One guy was very happy and cheerful despite his current situation and started asking me questions about the Church, but when he asked where I was from his countenance changed immediately and he shook his head when he heard America. Now, I don't know exactly what he thinks about us (he did not say exactly which country he originates from), but from what he said it hinted at jealousy with the American way of life and our initial benefits from birth. He vented to me about his problems and his current situation. I don't want to share all of it, but I felt so bad for this man that has suffered so much. I listened as tears filled his eyes, and he spoke with great emotion, and I continued to listen. When he finished I paused and searched within myself for the words to say. I could feel the Spirit guide my words as I bore testimony to him of the comforting power that comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I spoke of the cleansing and healing power of the Atonement, and he listened intently to the words. After I had finished with my testimony and promised blessings, he paused, and after a few seconds he smiled and he said, "You guys are different." He explained how he has gone to many different churches and that the people there were good with words but that they lacked something that he found in us. He simply said, "You listen." He told us that he wanted to know more, that he would come to church, and he put his hand over his heart, said goodbye to us, and I left with a strong feeling of gratitude from the Spirit, and new prospective and love for people in general. 

Another instance in which I feel the Savior's love for a particular individual is when I say hello to an elderly woman who lives right next to us. Sometimes when we come back home for lunch or leave to begin working for the day she stands out and waits for us, just to get a wave from the missionaries. The first time I saw her I just waved and smiled, but as I continued in my course I felt pushed to turn around and speak to her. I went over and she had the biggest smile on her face. It turns out that none of us missionaries has ever actually walked over to her porch to speak. She was so thankful, and took a moment to hold onto my hand, and speak to me about her loneliness because she is all by herself and the fact that I come over to talk to her really touched her. I then promised to her that I would always come to her to say hello every chance we could when we passed by. It's hard to explain, but I know and felt the love the Savior has for this woman, and her smile reminds me of my calling to be the Lord's representative here in Siracusa.

With other investigators things are progressing well. The work is moving foreword, and we are gaining trust of the members step by step. This transfer feels a bit like a preparation for something bigger the next transfer, and I'm excited to see how it folds out after getting the calls this Saturday. 

I love you all so much! Have a great week and stay safe in all that you do. Most importantly, stay close to your Heavenly Father and really show Him that you love Him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. He truly has His hand in our lives and guides us along. I want to share a video that has really touched me from the Mormon Messages on ( We must change our attitudes of trails as opportunities to grow rather than just a time to wait out as we suffer. We need to understand that Someone a lot greater, and a lot grander is guiding us. God is the Gardener. 

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, tanto bene.

Con affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Teatro Greco a Siracusa!

Hey guys!
"When I grow up I want to be a bronze statue"
Ciao ciao! This has been a great week! We have been blessed with many miracles and we are excited to see the work grow step by step! I keep learning so much in this city, about myself, about the people, and a lot about missionary work. Things continue to go great right now. 

We started a great split with the Anziani from Messina on Thursday. Me and Anziano Hansen felt that they could really benefit from this split, and it did indeed go very well. I did the split with Anziano Giovita, a guy from northern Italy in a city called Brescia. He really became a great friend and we have so much fun together, even when talking on the phone for a few minutes for numbers. 

Anyways, the highlight of the trip was the opportunity we had to teach a man named Gabriele that was a referral from Church headquarters. It turns out that he went to BYU for a year to learn English and even was brought to the MTC to be taught by missionaries bound for Italy. Unfortunately his experience at BYU wasn't the greatest and he didn't feel very welcomed once people found out he wasn't a member of the Church. He read some of the Book of Mormon, and he was still fascinated with the Church even though he had some negative experiences. We had a great first lesson and we really hit it off well. He might come down to Siracusa or close by just to visit us next week! In the English course taught by the Messina Anziani there is a lady that is an anesthesiologist and we talked a lot about her profession. 

On Friday we finally got back to Siracusa and finished some errands we needed to do. We had three appointments planned, and our great member friend Oscar who has his mission call to England was taking us around and was going to come to the lessons with us. We hit a record of cancelled appointments! Three in one hour! When an appointment falls through, the person isn't home, or doesn't show up we call it a 'bidone'. It means trashcan or something like that. We didn't let it get us down and we laughed it off with Oscar.

We were very blessed on Sunday night. There is a proselyting tool that missionaries have used here in Italy called a 'mostra'. It's basically like setting up a giant sign with pictures and scriptures about the Gospel in the middle of a busy place in a city and talking to people on the street. I have been somewhat against trying it on my mission, but a member got the permission from the city council for us to do it so we did. We found HUGE success, especially with two families that we talked to. One in particular I feel is really prepared to hear the Gospel. We finished off this 'mostra' with a big group of our members all doing a Sunday walk around the island part of Siracusa called Ortigia. We had a lot of fun with them, and the cool part about where we did 'mostra' was exactly where Paul taught outside the Temple of Apollo! It was a pretty sweet experience. 
On Monday we were walking down the street and a twenty year old guy named Marco who met with the missionaries a few years ago stopped us. He told us that his father had just died about three weeks ago and that he is having a rough time knowing about what lies ahead after this life. We set an appointment with him for that night and we hope that the things we taught him helped him feel more confident and at peace. We have another appointment with him and we will keep stressing the truth of eternal families. He needs our prayers!

That night we and the sisters put on a great dinner with the ward missionaries and other leaders of the church where we discussed missionary work, how we can inspire the ward to do more missionary work, and to reach out to less-actives. It went well and we hope that this ward will really have an excitement to share the Gospel with their friends. 

Tuesday was a big day and we had a great zone conference. The trainings went well and we discussed a lot about sacrifices. We made the point that when we are refused, cursed at, and turned away, we have the privilege to suffer like the Savior suffered. Think about it, He was a perfect Teacher, yet most didn't listen. As Elder Holland said, if it was never easy for Him, why should it ever be easy for us to do this work? Salvation is not a cheap experience, and in order to gain it we need to "have a moment in Gethsemane" and "take a step toward Calvary". It would never be anything close to the amount to what Christ suffered of course, but I look at it as a privilege, like I said, to know how He felt. It puts things on a different perspective, lightens this 'yoke' upon us, and helps us realize what it means to take upon ourselves this 'cross' like is mentioned in Matthew 16:24. Another thought, if you think about it the Gospel is the answer to everything. Absolutely everything. You can take any problem this world has ever faced, is facing, and will face, and the answer and solution to it is simply the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The secret to it is sacrifice. We can't imagine the blessings waiting for us when we sacrifice for the Lord.

Therefore keep in mind: The Gospel is the answer. Sacrifice is the secret. "Il Vangelo è la risposta. Il segreto è il sacrificio."

Unfortunately President Kelly wasn't at this zone conference. In his whole mission this is the only one he missed because he wasn't feeling well at all, and he listened to his wife and companion when she said he should stay home (he had been flying back and forth and doing meetings and stake conferences with Elder Nelson of the Twelve... It would be great to be in Rome right now)! I witnessed something truly amazing and a miracle as I could say the least. Sister Kelly completely followed the Spirit and gave President Kelly's training exactly how he would have done it. Us as missionaries really look forward to what President will say to us to get us pumped and energized with the work, and Sister Kelly just rocked it. I could do nothing but thank her after.

It was so much fun seeing other missionaries, especially Anziano Luke like always! Today we've had a great preparation day. The sisters from Ragusa and Mistretta were here including the guys from Gela and we had a blast. Anziano Green is in Gela right now and we are so happy that we've been following each other around on the mission. We are really great friends and I'm so glad he lives close (Redlands area). We went to an ancient Greek theater, a Roman amptheater, prison, and other amazing historical sites.  I love Italy!!!
Ancient Greek Theater - Siricusa, Sicily, Italy 9/19/12

Ancient Greek Theater - Siricusa, Sicily, Italy 9/19/12

That's the sum up of the week! Things are going great and I love the mission 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 and stay safe! You all are the best! Vi voglio tanto bene! Ciao!

Con amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Carissima Famiglia Mia!!!

Cara famiglia, 
Piazza del Duomo in Siracusa
World War II Bomb Shelter

Ciao tutti! Hey guys! It sounds like things are great with everyone and I am so glad! That is so awesome that Morgan got to meet Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf. I am so jealous, but happy for you! I am watching his talk he gave on and it is amazing. He tells it how it is: "You NEVER check your religion at the door!" Boom! He is the man. I love reading and watching the CES firesides. I am doing so good here and I feel like I've been learning a lot. That is one of the best parts about the mission is just having the opportunity to learn, grow, and grow closer to the Lord. It has been a great week so I'll tell you all about it!
On Thursday I did a split with Anziano Hansen that went very well. Our time was filled mostly with appointments and they have a few investigators that are making some great progress. For example we taught the Restoration to a twelve year old boy who has a baptismal date, and also his mother who was just invited to be baptized and know has a date. We saw a few other contacts and I learned a lot from Anziano Hansen who is a stud!
The work is moving along in Siracusa. We still are spending most of our time with finding, but we have two investigators that are making some pretty good progress, the only problem being that we cannot meet with them more than once a week usually. Unfortunately we have also lost some investigators that weren't interested anymore, which is always a bummer, but there are always new people to find and help.
We had a lot of fun on Saturday. Usually I try to avoid activities that would take up whole days, but thanks to one of these kinds of ward activities we met Ignazio Mazzone who got baptized back in Olbia. Therefore when our ward had this activity planned to go up into the mountains to a park with rope courses and ziplines I obviously was excited and didn't refuse the invite. Our members are good at inviting friends to activities.
As we were leaving in the morning, the car we happened to be in broke down about halfway down the road which was a ton of fun, and then someone else came along to get us. There were a lot of people there and they were so excited that we came. We even made a great friendship with a less-active mother who is against the church and doesn't want her daughter and son who are well past baptizing age to join the church. Hopefully this little friendship will spark a miracles for their family to begin the healing process and have a new start. In the end, I love zip-lines! Too much fun!
I am glad for a little assignment I was given to teach the young men for the next few weeks. There is a young man here who is twenty and has his mission call to England and is just awesome. He always wants to go out and do splits with us. Anyways, his younger brother who is eighteen doesn't want to serve a mission, so we want to kind of inspire him a bit, but it's tough because their dad is less-active and of little support.
We have been doing a lot of publicity for our English course and have restarted it. We have some great students and I am really excited because I'm sure we are going to have a lot of fun together. We'll see if we can organize some soccer games here in a bit! Another one of my favorite things here in Siracusa is the Family Home Evening that the ward puts on every Tuesday night. It is a great way to have investigators make friendships with the members.
That's about it for the events of this week! Things are going good, and we are really working hard. We're expecting miracles and we are sure to see the fruits of our labors here soon. The beautiful thing is that you don't always realize how much you benefit an area until you leave it or hear about it later. For example, in Trapani another investigator I found and taught with Simonetta has a baptismal date. In Olbia, a referral from the Tache family was just baptized, and Nina moved to France or something where she can finally get baptized. It's cool to see how things work and how it's all the Lord's work, and we are just instruments in His hands.
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! I love and miss you all so much! Christmas is coming up here soon it feels like where we can Skype again! Can't wait! Vi voglio tanto tanto bene!
Un abbraccio grande!
Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Una bella settimana a Siracusa!

 Dear Family,

Hey guys! We had a great preparation day this morning and we went to a really famous museum here in Siracusa that has a ton of ancient artifacts that they've found here in Sicily throughout the ages. My favorite exhibits of course were the ancient Greek and Ancient Roman ones.
 There were lots of sweet statues, vases, art, building pieces, money, armor, weapons, and all of those things I loved as a kid when I was study Greek and Roman mythology. It feels like little boyhood dreams are being fulfilled or something.
 There is so much history here in Siracusa and I can't even believe it! It never gets old walking past ancient temples and tombs amongst Renaissance style urban areas. I love Italy!

A lot of finding work payed off and we ended up receiving three new investigators last week. One of them is atheist, but it's really interesting what he told us yesterday in our second lesson. He broke the news to us that he is atheist, but he thinks he is wrong about his beliefs. He said he is atheist because God has never communicated with him, but he is willing to try to create a relationship with him. This is perfect! All we need to do is help him recognize the Lord's hand in his life, and he is already starting his part by reading and he said his first prayer with us yesterday. We hope to see him in church this week!

Another new investigator is such a great guy, but he has some depression problems. The great thing though is that after our first appointment his whole countenance changed and he left with a smile on his face. We brought a member with us for the next lesson and he gave the investigator some great advice as to what he can do to become happier. We actually ended up setting a baptismal date in October so let's hope he can really see the positive influence of the Gospel in his life.

Church was great again and the young men's president (who I think is the only one over the young men in the ward) has asked me to teach the young men for the next month because he is getting married in Napoli, going to Switzerland to be sealed, and then doing his honeymoon so he'll be a bit busy. I love the young men here and we have fun and joke around a lot. One kid wants to teach me to play the guitar!

Well I have some great news! Sergio from Trapani, the man who I was teaching got baptized last weekend! We were too busy and I figured it would be best to stay in my city so we didn't go see it, but I got permission to call him Monday morning. He was so surprised to hear from me and he was so happy. He kept telling me that it was the most beautiful experience of his life and how he really feels now that he is a child of God. We were both in tears as we talked, and I felt some of that joy again that the prophet promised me when I got my call letter. The best kind of 'thank you's' that bring the most satisfaction I've ever received have been here in the mission. I am so grateful for the chance I had to start teaching Sergio Valenti, and to hear his happiness for the covenants he made with the Lord.

It started raining like crazy one day this week, and we were in church waiting for two investigators to teach. They didn't show up so we decided that we needed to run home to grab another umbrella, because we only had my little one and my companion didn't bring his. The storm was pretty crazy so when it died down we left, but nearly as soon as we left the rain pounded down even harder than it had before, and we both got soaked from head to toe despite trying to share my little umbrella. One street we needed to cross was flooded and when we stepped in it to cross it was halfway up my shin. We decided to just run as fast as we could home, and we were laughing the whole way. It would have been a pretty funny scene to see!

That's the week! Things are going great and we are still trying hard to find new investigators and to fill our time with teaching. This week I'll go to Catania for a day and then Messina the next week for splits before zone conference. I'll let you all know how things go! 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! Keep up the great work with all that you are doing and remember to always stay close to the Lord! Love you all tons! Vi voglio tanto bene!

Con amore,

Anziano Clay Lacey