Saturday, March 31, 2012

Amo la missione!‏

Hey guys!

Thank you all so much for the emails! I am glad you are all doing so good! Wow this has been a good week. It seems like things just keep going up and up! The investigators are doing great, and the work in general is moving forward.

Adhemar had been really sick for the majority of the week but we saw him on Tuesday with Fratello Murgia. We began teaching him the commandments, and we had a really good lesson. He was talking a lot about baptism on his own, and so when the Spirit was strongest and after we had borne our testimonies, I gave him the baptismal invite. We had a date in mind for the 28th of April, and so we invited him, and he said that he wants to study more, and pray more so he can know with a surety that these things are true. He said that this is going to be a huge knew step in his life that can't be taken lightly, so he wants to prepare more. I respect him a lot for that. Keep praying for him and who knows, maybe he'll be ready for the end of April!

Things are going great with the referrals he gave us! Monday night we went and tried a young couple that lives in the same apartment building as Adhemar. They work a ton, and are hardly ever home, so we hadn't been able to see them until then. We didn't meet the wife, but we did a lesson with Ronald, who is also from Bolivia, and he is very interested in the Gospel. We have another appointment with him next Wednesday, and I'm sure we'll have the lesson with his wife also. 

Another miracle, we contacted the other family he gave us, came a few times but there was only the young daughter, Margherita, home, so we fixed an appointment to meet with her when her family was home. We saw her Tuesday, but no one else in the family participated in the lesson unfortunately (the brother, the older sister, and the older sister's boyfriend). The lesson went well, she is awesome, and she is very interested in the gospel, but there's only one problem. Margherita is only thirteen years old! We had no idea until she told us because she looks way older and acts way older than she is! We have another appointment set but we don't want to teach her more until we can teach her with her mom who wasn't home at the time, or at least so we can get permission and teach her with Adhemar who is her uncle. Pray hard that this situation will work out because we need young women in the branch! The only young woman turned eighteen right when I came. 

We also found another new investigator named Michel. He is from Chad (I think that's how you spell it in English), and he is so awesome. He speaks French, Italian, Arabic, a little bit of English, and is studying for in some kind of masters program here in Sassari. We found him at a bus stop and we started a conversation until we talked about the gospel and got his number so we could meet with him. The cool thing is that the Christians are very low in number in Chad, because the country is mostly Muslim,  so it was a miracle altogether that our paths met!

Enoch is still doing great and making great progress. He came to church for the second time, and made some great friends. One of the little kids in the branch thought that he was a professional soccer player so he asked for his autograph- it was so funny! Since he's taken the missionary lessons he's noticed a new light that has come into his life and it's amazing to hear him share that testimony with us. 

Other than that we have been meeting with some less-actives and trying to get everyone excited for General Conference! 

Tuesday night the assistants, Anziano Gatchell and Anziano Wright (who served in Sassari), came to give us some supplies and to give a new car to Olbia. They are such studs and it is awesome to learn new things from experienced missionaries. They wanted me to say hi to you all, by the way! I guess on the mainland (since hardly anyone in the mission knows me because I've been on Sardegna the whole time) I'm starting to be known as the elder who looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. It's getting worse!

For p-day we went down to Olbia, found a nice beach, and played some soccer and football. We had a blast and even got some sun which was nice after being bundled up during winter. We then had an activity back in Sassari with the Elders quorum and watched the documentary on President Monson, "On the Lord's Errand." I've seen it before, but as I watched it I realized how grateful I am to have a living prophet on the earth today to lead and guide us. I want people to realize this truth for themselves! God loves us so much, and one sees this from what He does for us. 

I love you all so much! Thanks for all of your support and for your prayers. 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 miss you all tons and I can't wait until May to see and talk to you guys! Vi voglio tanto bene!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another Great Week!‏

Hey guys!

This has been another great week! We are continuing to receive a ton of blessings here in Sassari, and the work is definitely moving forward. Our investigators are doing great, and we are really excited as we come into April. The language is going good! We speak nearly only Italian on most days, and I felt good as my English class told me that I was starting to get a Sardo accent! That might not be a good thing though because I think the rest of Italia make fun of their accent!

As for the investigators, they are making great progress. We are really gaining the member's trust, and they are beginning to come with us to lessons with these investigators much more. For example we took this young guy named Gianluca with us to have a lesson with Enoch, and it went well. To us it was a huge, yet simple miracle- Enoch came to church and loved it. It was his first time, and people were very friendly with him. In fact, they think he has one of the most beautiful names ever! We have another member from Nigeria, but unfortunately she wasn't there because I think they'd hit it off well! It is so amazing to see the change in Enoch's life. 

We had an awesome lesson with Adhemar on Monday. Unfortunately he didn't come to church, but he is reading so much of the Book of Mormon. He just gets things instantly, and understands the principles so well. Definitely a 'golden investigator'. We taught the Plan of Salvation with a member named Fortunato Masala who is a stud. The Spirit was so strong as we discussed these topics and then after the lesson was done his wife came home from work and we talked with her and broke the ice a bit with her. 

One of the best parts about the lesson didn't happen until the end. Part of me is embarrassed to tell this, but it's a cool story. As missionaries we ask for referrals from everyone. When we contact people we don't know we always ask if they know someone who would be interested. Obviously we are supposed to do this with our investigators, but for some reason we always forgot with Adhemar. At the end of the lesson I felt so strong that I should ask him for friends, acquaintances, or whoever that could benefit from the things we are teaching him now. Right then and there without thought he gave us six people! It was amazing! It's amazing what the Spirit does to help us, even in reminding us of the simple things we are supposed to do. Tonight we have planned to contact these six people and I have faith that we will have new investigators.

Speaking of new investigators we found one Friday morning! When doing house contacts a few weeks ago we found this lady named Emanuela who had attended our English course years before, and then got married, had two kids, and didn't have time after that. When we met her she told us that we could come back and share our message with her. Well we tried for a few weeks and she was never home. We were in the area Friday morning and an appointment fell through, so we decided to try again. Luckily she was home! She told us that she didn't have much time because she was about to go to work, but she let us come in. We met her beautiful little family, and we had a lesson with her. We asked her about her spiritual desires, and she said that she wants to be closer to God, and she is searching for another faith in which she can express her love for Him. Perfect. We explained to her our purpose as missionaries, asked her if we could teach her these lessons, and she agreed. We are so excited for her! I'll keep you all posted on how things go with her. She is really busy with work, but no doubt she'll make the gospel a priority in her life!

Another miracle happened. We finally had a lesson with Maddalena! First off, it's hard to explain her personality, but she is a jokester, sometimes a bit stubborn, but always full of love. She has been extremely busy with her job, yet comes to church nearly every week because she works for this family in the branch and lives with them. Finally she was available to have a Family Home Evening with us and the Murgia family at their home. We had a great time, and we decided that we were going to talk about happiness. We watched the film 'Finding Happiness' and then got into a great discussion about that. Maddalena talked about how much she loves the church, and how grateful she is to the Murgia family for their example of showing their happiness on an everyday basis. We then started bearing testimony, and the Spirit was so strong, so I felt like we needed to talk to her about baptism. I expressed to her the love that we all have for her, and told her that we want to help prepare her for baptism, and in order to do that we would need to meet with her twice a week. I promised her that if she would do this, she would find more happiness in her life. She accepted! We are really excited for her and pretty soon we hope to set her a baptismal date. Joking about the lesson later on she says that when teaching lessons I'm dangerous, in a good way, whatever that means???

To share some funny stories we've had some moments that have really almost brought us to tears from laughing so much. We decided to do weekly planning in centro of the city one evening because we thought that going home to do it would take too much time before going to our next appointment. It turned out to be a bad idea. We got caught up holding back our laughter from this poor kid about Greg's age learning how to roller-skate. He was the most diligent little guy I've ever seen! He fell countless times, almost took out an old lady, and crashed into planters left and right. Later on we saw this drunk guy who almost fell as he walked in figure eights around the city square, and then he disappeared. We saw him again a few minutes later with a gelato in hand (Italian ice cream) and he was singing a song about how good his gelato was. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. This is all a bit random, but I am grateful to see funny things like this everyday. This isn't even the half of it! I'm excited for when I come home and can recount to you all the funny things I see!

Well that's about it for the week! Things are amazing here in Sassari! We are so lucky and blessed by the Lord. I know for a fact why He wants me here in Sassari, and I would do anything to stay longer. 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 an awesome week! Send my love to everyone! Vi voglio una galassia di bene!

Con amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

"...quale gioia è ciò per il mio cuore, sapere che vive il Redentore." (Hymn:I Know that My Redeemer Lives"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cara famiglia mia!‏

Cara famiglia, 

Ciao! Hey guys! I miss you all so much! This has been an awesome week! We've had a pretty good start to the new transfer. Right now we are in Olbia for a p-day together before Anziano Vitali and Anziano Casillas leave the island. They stayed a little extra because Anziano Casillas had a baptism down in Oristano and Anziano Vitali had to get things done for his Permesso di Soggiorno. Therefore we are all together for a last hurrah! This is going to be the first time I'm going to be without my "babbo" in the mission field since Anziano Vitali will be gone!

The investigators are doing great. There are two that are making the most progress, Adhemar and Enoch. We've had a few really great lessons with Adhemar lately. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then we even felt promted to talk to him about our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to be baptized. We invited him to pray about baptism so that he can begin preparing himself for that. Hopefully we can set a baptismal date here soon! He is so awesome. He is reading everyday and is already halfway through 2 Nephi! He has been praying about the Book of Mormon and said that he has dreams about the stories in it. Super powerful stuff! We are still hoping well for his family. 

Enoch is doing great too. Actually that might be an understatement! We have a baptismal date set for him for the fourteenth of April! We have had some great lessons with him and he has really expressed his desires to change and be closer to God. We told him that we can do that through making covenants with the Lord, that is, baptism. As a goal for him to begin this changing process we set this date. We taught him the Plan of Salvation recently and he really liked it and asked great questions. Speriamo bene!

Other than that we have been trying to get things rolling with the others, but no luck for now. We are afraid that one investigator thinks that we are only here to be friends and hang out. He invited us to go get a drink (soda) at a bar with him and his girlfriend (one second- Italian bars are a lot more different from a stereotypical American bar! They are family-friendly haha) and it was fun, but we aren't here to hang out every night, like he's been trying to do. He is awesome though, and his sister just had a baby and he was there holding her hand through it and he said it was the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to teach the Plan of Salvation so we have an appointment set with him for Thursday. That day he also wants to take us to meet his sister and his new niece named Aurora. Beautiful name, huh? It means 'dawn' it Italian. 

(Hey I gotta go but I'll be sure to get on and write more soon! I love you all so much! I'm so proud of all of you! I'll get back to you all later today hopefully!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sempre a Sassari!‏

Dear Family!
Mediterranean Snowman!

Service Project - cleaning up after a fire at someone's home - Good thing he got experience working for the Smithson's at Service Master
MTC friends reunited at conference in Rome
We got the transfer calls and we're doing another transfer together here in Sassari! I have a feeling I'm going to be here forever, but that's okay! The craziest part is that Anziano Vitali is being transferred to the same city he was in before Olbia! Lecce, the city he was born at! That's pretty much unheard of! He is way excited though. Right now I'm tied for 'king of the island' with Anziano Shaw down in Oristano because we've been here for the same amount of time. I think I might hit my year mark in Sassari! We'll see because president's transfers are completely unpredictable! I'm still the youngest elder in Sardegna, but I got my first leadership position as district leader and taught my first training in Olbia.
This week has been absolutely fantastic. As far as numbers go it has been the best of my mission. We taught many lessons, found new investigators, and even had them in church. We've been extremely blessed and I do not know why. 

My testimony of the Book of Mormon has really grown these past couple of days. Studying it and noticing the simplicity of how pure it is has really hit me, especially as we are exhorting Adhemar to gain a testimony of it for himself. We've had a few very good lessons with him, and you can already see the change in his life. He reads the Book of Mormon everyday, and tries to share it with his family. He came to church for the first time on Sunday, and it was absolutely amazing. He actually passed up an invite to go to this lunch thing with the J.W. members and his family, and instead he came to church with us. Apparently they aren't too happy. In fact, we had a lesson with him yesterday, and a few J.W.'s showed up and did a study session with his daughter in her bedroom. It was a very awkward situation but Adhemar laughed when they went away and said that they were very jealous that we have began teaching him instead of them. He really hit it off well with our members and they were all very friendly with him. I'm excited to see how things go. 

Speaking of how well church went, we had another investigator show up, Maurizio, the 21 year old guy. It was amazing, he came, talked to president like he wanted, and then stayed for Sacrament Meeting. He was asking good questions, was very attentive, and loved hearing every one's testimonies. The most random thing happened though, he stood up to bare his testimony! It was an awesome, heartfelt testimony that he knows that God lives, and that he was "excited to be a part of this new community"- talking about our branch. We talked to president after, and he said that even if nothing happens with him as far as him progressing in the gospel, we really saw a miracle that day. The members were so nice to him and he says he's going to start frequenting our church! 

I think we might start getting a ton of referrals now because the members love us. They joked with us that missionaries usually bring people to church that are a little strange, but to have two, absolutely awesome people in church was a huge accomplishment. I'm sure we'll have much better missionary member work now. 

We also picked up an ex-investigator Sunday night. His name is Enoch, and he is from Africa! He used to have a fixed baptismal date a few months ago, but then he wasn't progressing and didn't come to church so nothing happened. He expressed to us that he is ready to begin again, and he said that he's been reading the Book of Mormon- which is great! We have really been blessed with solid investigators.

Oh, I had the opportunity to do an unusual thing on my mission. We got a call from a less-active member that he had a service opportunity for us. It turns out that this service opportunity was to cut his hair. Kind of weird... but hey, we'll do it. We got to his house, and I noticed that his hair was already fairly short. He filled a bucket of water and then grabbed a razor and shaving cream. That's when I realized that he wanted us to shave him bald! Well, I had never used a razor in my life (because I use an electric one) so I thought I was going to luck out on it. My companion didn't feel comfortable doing it, so it fell on me to begin rubbing shaving cream on his head, and shaving him bald. It was... fun... I guess, and the member was very thankful and said that I did well. I'm just glad that there was no blood! 

When we went to Olbia on Monday I got to see the Tache family, and they are doing well! He is determined that I will baptize him and Anziano Vitali will baptize Iona when they are able, no matter where we are in the mission! Ignazio is doing so good and they are preparing to go to the temple in due time. 

That's the update! Things are going so well. I just hate how quick the mission is going by. I miss you guys and I can't wait to see you all, but sometimes I feel like two years isn't enough time. That's why I got to use it more wisely!!! 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! You all are awesome! Vi voglio benissimo! Alla prossima!

Con affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey