Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Un'altra bella settimana qui a Trapani!

Buongiorno tutti!

Ciao! How are you all doing? Things are going great here in Italy and I really love Sicily. The people are absolutely fantastic and we are having too much fun with them. For example, for p-day we played soccer with a family we are teaching. The mother and father have three boys all in their twenties, and they are extremely talented in soccer. Let's just say I got owned and they showed me what soccer is! We play again today so I am a little nervous!
Trapani, Sicily, Italia

Enjoying some Gelato
Trapani, Sicily, Italia (July, 2012)

Trapani, Sicily, Italia (July, 2012)

Investigators are doing great! We have two refugees from Nigeria who want to be baptized so we are preparing them for that. Their names are Michael and Bright. We've seen quite a bit of miracles with them. Michael became a new investigator after we taught him his and my first Sunday here. Later in the week he has actually asked us to teach him more often and he loves the Book of Mormon. I thought of an idea, and we are going to put it into use and see if it works. As there are so many African refugees here in Italy that escaped Libya during that contentious time, they live here and have been here for over a year and don't speak Italian, and who knows how long they will be here, or if they must settle down here. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to try to teach an Italian course specifically for them. Ya, we are only two Americans who barely know this new language, and we started learning less than a year and a half ago, but we at least know the basics and I believe it will be a huge help to them. Plus, they say that when you teach a subject that your knowledge of it automatically grows so we've got a win-win situation! Our first lesson is tomorrow so we'll see how many people show up, if any at all! We did a little bit of publicity so we'll see how it goes.

We have a student from English course that shortly became a new investigator. She had usually come early to the course to ask questions about life, but at my first lesson before English course she agreed to hear the missionary lessons. She has a great faith in God, and knows that she must somehow become closer to him, but she isn't sure how to yet. That's where we come in! Last night before the course she came and we began to read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon with her. She might have been a little embarrassed at first, because she said that we needed to stop as soon as somebody else from the course came. We read, and then slowly everyone from the course started coming, but she didn't want to stop, and we eventually finished, and even had the closing prayer. To me it was a mini-miracle to see how intently she was reading and pondering the words in this truly inspired book.

We've also found some success with setting appointments with ex-investigators. The area book is full of investigator forms without reasons of why missionaries stopped teaching them, so it makes it a lot harder for us new guys to figure out what happened. We set an appointment with a friend of a member who will come with us, and says that she really wants us to make a friendship with her son in his twenties. Hopefully we can get some young, missionary-aged men out on missions! The branch already has two out, why not more!

The branch here is absolutely fabulous. Since Sicily was recently made a stake, the members are determined to make Trapani a ward. There are about 40-50 active members and they are so ready to help with missionary work. One man in particular was baptized two years ago with his wife, and since then several of his children and grandchildren have followed him by example. We went to visit him and he is getting his brother ready for us by sharing the Plan of Salvation and bearing his testimony. Let's hope for the best!

Another family invited us over for lunch after church and had us share a message to some family members who were visiting from up north. We had a great time, and one man was particularly interested in the church, and will already be sought out by missionaries when he returns. I might not know what will happen with his conversion story now, but I can hope and pray for the best, and we'll see in the life to come!

Sicilians are amazing cooks! They pretty much go all out on every meal, and they love to feed the missionaries! I think that most of Italia sticks to a red sauce for the pasta for the most part, but Sicilians switch it up a bit and use a lot of onions and garlic. I am definitely loving it here! Me and my companion get along great, and we speak only Italian with each other, so our skills with the language are growing too. We have so much fun at English course! One man is determined to master the American accent and bought a book on the matter. We began reading it together, and he went directly to a section labeled DANGER. It talked about correct pronunciation of the English words, because the Italian accent would make them sound like swear words. He began reading and we were trying to hold back the laughter as he pronounced these words very wrong, thus making them very vulgar words! Another guy asked me how you said "moglie (wife)" in English. I told him and I wrote it on the board. He looked at me confusingly and said, "I thought that was the word for 'lupo' (wolf), or are they the same word?" Everyone in the class was dying of laughter and those married made some witty remarks.

I love it here! Things are great and we have some great work going, and I know it will get better! 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! I can't believe that you are all about to start school/work again! Prepare well and make it a great year! Vi voglio tanto bene! Grazie mille per le preghiere e l'amore che mi sento ogni giorno! Siete grandi!

Con amore,

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Amo la Sicilia! Le persone sono fantastiche!

Buongiorno tutti!

Wow it has felt like forever since I got on last to write you guys! So much has happened in the last few days and I don't know where to start.
English Course farewell party for Anziano Lacey

Anziano Lacey holding the tie Fratello Murgia gave him off of his neck!
Continuing to say goodbye to people was the hardest thing ever. English course was tough and I was really emotional saying goodbye to Lorenza. It was a huge surprise but Maurizio, the guy we taught who had the baptismal date came back from Cagliari and surprised me by saying goodbye. You have no idea how much I love the people in Sassari and I can't wait to come back.
I was a mess at Adhemar's house. He ordered pizza and we all enjoyed each other's company during the evening. Yes, there were differences of religious beliefs between us and the rest of his family, but the friendship that I have with them is a clear evidence to me that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. I said goodbye to his family, and then I faced Adhemar, dreading the tears that were sure to come. As we hugged he said to me as he also cried, "Thank you Lacey for bringing me the word of God. You helped me get closer to Christ and I can't thank you enough. I love you!" Every second, thought, prayer, and lesson I spent regarding Adhemar these last five months hit me at that moment and I realized how much the Lord loves him and has been helping him during this time of preparation. Ya, I didn't see his baptism while I was there, but I had the amazing and sacred privilege of being an instrument in the Lord's hands during his conversion experience. I know the meaning of missionary success, and I saw miraculous success with him. In the end, I haven't changed and goodbyes are still probably the thing I hate the most.
Ship from Sardegna to Civitavecchia (Port of Rome)
Wednesday was the big day! In the morning the Anziani from Oristano came and picked us up early in the morning, and we headed out to Olbia. I said goodbye to Anziano Hopper, and me and Anziano Shaw left the island the same way we came in, on the boat. As we stood outside  we reflectively watched for an hour and a half as we said goodbye to one of my favorite places on earth that I will return to: La bella Sardegna.

The boat ride was about a five and a half hour trip, and we had fun exploring the boat, talking to people, and eating over-priced sandwiches. We got to the port called Civitavecchia, where we took a train to Rome. Let me mention how difficult it was to hall around my three bags, and help Anziano Shaw with his five! We got to Rome and the day before I got word from the assistants that I had to make my way through Rome to their apartment because they didn't have time to get us. It was a bit of a nightmare working our way around a city we don't know, taking buses, carried everything, and all of this in one of the biggest cities in Europe! It was an adventure though and we surprisingly made it to the Roma due apartment alive.

There I was with a ton of Anziani, and I even got to hang out with Anziano Vitali! He is doing great and is definitely one of my best friends in the mission. I got up at 4:30 in the morning and got taken back to the train station. The train left at 7:00, and I had to travel alone (for the last leg of the trip) without other missionaries because when the train would get to Messina, the first city on the tip of Sicily, it would split and half would go to Catania while half would go to Palermo. I was the only missionary going to Palermo. I made friends with the people in my little cabin, so they watched my stuff as I ate snacks on the train with the Sisters and Anziano Green. We had fun because the train actually went onto a ferry to cross the little stretch of water that separates Italy from Sicily. I met so many cool people from all over Italy on that train ride, and the twelve hours flew by so quickly, despite the fact that the air conditioning went out!
Anziano Lacey, Sorellas Teichart and Hicks
Lacey and Green on Ferry from Mainland to Sicily
I was the victim of yet again, another joke. I got to Palermo, and I was greeted by Anziano Murengo from PerĂ¹, and who I thought to be Anziano Simonetta, my new comp. It turns out that my real comp was with the other two Anziani at their English course, and he decided to play a little joke on me by switching tags with Anziano Larsen. It was pretty funny and he got me good. We slept in Palermo and went off to Trapani Friday morning by bus.
Sunset from Trapani, Sicily, Italy
I guess I can explain a little bit of Sicily now! I love it! It is such a beautiful place, and it is totally a different world. The thing that is strangest for me is the accent. At first it was hard to understand, but I'm getting used to it. If you want to know how they speak, watch a clip from The Godfather. I'm not kidding. The Sicilians are some of the nicest people ever. They are so loving, kind, and a bit wild! Little kids run up to us and want to play a soccer in the street. Men don't really wear shirts during this hot season and everyone is tan. That brings me to the heat... It is so hot and humid! I feel wet almost 24/7. The culture is also very different, and the food is fantastic. After church on Sunday some members invited us over for lunch and we ate so much amazing food! The branch consists of about 40 awesome members who love the gospel. I already love it here! They have a dialect here that is mixed of Italian, Greek, and Arabic. In southern Italy pretty much everyone speaks their dialects at home, but at school and work it's Italian. Some poor people in Sicily only speak Sicilian, and it is impossible to communicate with them.
Anziano Lacey and the real Anziano Simonetta
The work is going good! Anziano Simonetta is a stud and loves the people so much. He has a conversion story very similar to Dad's, and he works hard. We have already found two new investigators since our less than a week together, and I like the working pattern we are getting in. I'd like to go more into detail but there is just so much to explain with all the events within these last few days! Things are going great though, and I'm so grateful for the inspiration that President received for me to come here.

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. Thank you all for everything you do for me! Keep having a great summer and stay safe! Vi voglio un sacco di bene!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Over 5,000 Views!!!

Thank you to everyone who continues to follow Anziano Clay Lacey as he serves his mission in Italy.  He travels to Trapani, Italy (on the Island of Sicily) today.  The blog just went over 5,000 views!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Arrivederci Sardegna! Mi mancherĂ !

Buongiorno tutti! Hey guys! I'm do glad everyone is doing well and that you are all having so much fun! Keep it up! Things are going great here! Like I said in my email, I'm getting transferred! I'm hoping right over to Sicily in the beautiful city of Trapani! I couldn't be more excited and I'm so excited to be engulfed in the Sicilian culture! I have heard so many great stories, and it's a place full of history, and of course, the mafia! I might die from heat though because I think that it is the city closest to Africa, so it's hot. Tomorrow I take the ferry to Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, I'll sleep there for the night, and then I have a twelve hour train ride all the way to Trapani. I'm excited though and I'll basically be able to see all of Southern Italy while I head down so I'm excited! I'll let you all know how it goes!

This past week I've been doing what President told me to do in the interview: work hard and say goodbye to the people. We've been doing a lot of finding and have seen success with more potential investigators. President always want us to work a little harder in a city when we know we are about to leave because we'd expect the same from the missionary who's spot we'd fill.

Saturday we had a lesson with Adhemar, and we actually got the calls right then before we started the lesson. I knew that this would probably be the last lesson that I'd be able to do with him so we prepared well. I prayed hard, and as I was doing my personal study it stood out so clearly to me that we needed to invite him to read the talk from the last General Conference by Elder Holland, "The Laborers in the Vineyard." I love that talk so much and as I read it I obviously found much I need to take from it, but also how it could be applicable to Adhemar's situation with his family and how he feels with his job and work. In the lesson we watched the film The Testaments, and there was a special Spirit there. In the end we bore testimony, but this time was a little different. My teacher, Brother Bulloch talked about the last testimony he bore to an investigator before his mission ended and how he gave it with such might and it was so heartfelt that it was almost like he left or literally gave this testimony for the investigator. I felt like that when I shared my testimony with him. We were both teary eyed, and then he shared something so touching. He said, "Thank you for your testimony. I always feel the Spirit when you guys are with me, and teach me, but today was different. I am happy." They were just simple words, but all the effort, prayer, and time I have spent with Adhemar has been the greatest learning experience I've had here in Sassari, and I wouldn't trade my time here for anything.

Church was perfect. People were so excited for the news that I was heading to Sicily. One of the members even served as branch president there when he did his mission years ago. It was tough saying goodbye to everyone, especially Fratello Murgia and his family. Earlier in the day I complemented him on his tie, and after church he took it right off and gave it to me as a little thing to remember him by. I took pictures with the members, and I got a little emotional, as you could imagine how I always am, but I'm getting better! I really did feel loved that day and I will miss the members so much! We had six investigators in church, including Lorenza and her husband Sergio, the one's who invited us over for lunch on Easter.

The rest of Sunday was a bit crazy. We went to Alghero with the Mangoni family and ate a huge and delicious lunch with them, headed back to Sassari, and the Carboni family had us over for pizza that they make in their wood burning oven. I ate so much! I am just getting ready for all the food the Sicilians might give me!

Monday we had our last district meeting and I'm really going to miss Anziano Schwing and Anziano Ferrero. He served with my future companion, Anziano Simonetta, and said that he is great, and that we will be one of the strongest companionship's in the mission together, so he got me super pumped up! I can't wait to get over to Trapani!

My English course students are so great. They organized this awesome dinner at a fancy Pizzeria for me Monday night. We had a ton of fun and Lorenza even brought me a little present, two blue ties! Her husband Sergio has blue eyes, and she always buys him blue clothing to make his eye's pop, so she did the same for me! They are fancy, expensive Italian ties too... explains the nice BMW her husband drives!

Well that's the sum up for the week! Things are going great and I am so excited for the future! I know I will have a blast at Trapani, and even on the longest voyage one could take in the Italy Rome Mission! 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! Statemi bene! Mi mancate un sacco! Ci sentiamo presto e vi voglio tanto bene!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Felice Giorno d'Indipendenza!

Cara famiglia mia,

Hey guys! Happy Independence day! Be safe and have some fun! It's hard to believe that a year ago I was in the MTC watching the fireworks from the stadium at BYU! Time is flying too quickly!

This has been a great week. I'll skip ahead to what happened yesterday. We went to Cagliari for zone conference and it was perfect. Just like always President Kelly received such inspiration, specifically for us here in Sardegna, and as he spoke of different methods we can use to invite people to act, it all just clicked and all the questions I came with were definitely answered. Especially those regarding our investigator Adhemar. One thing that I realized and will always remember now is an important point in missionary work. We learn that the Spirit is the true teacher of course, but what does that make us missionaries as the vessels to bring the Spirit into this person's life? We are 'inviters'. Nowhere in our missionary purpose does it say that we teach people but instead, we invite people to act for themselves so that they can be directly connected to the powers of heaven. This is such an important principle and it helps us missionaries learn the Christlike attribute of humility as we recognize where the true power comes from. Just like Christ, the Greatest of all who lived, took not the source of the things He taught upon Himself, but directed the doctrine back to His Father. As you can see I really enjoyed this conference and it is a huge testimony builder that leaders in the church are put in their positions and specifically called of God, and these humble people tell us what the Lord would have shared with us, therefore it is so important to sustain and honor our leaders. 
President and Sister Kelly
Sardegna Zone Conference - 7/3/12

I also had my interview with President and that went well, and based on what he said it is pretty much set in stone that I'm leaving the island. I love Sardegna, the wonderful people, members of the church, but I'm ready for a change. President Kelly said that he likes to have missionaries set roots in an area, and my eleven months here have done that. I have never been more excited for transfers, and I know that I will be blessed wherever I go. 

The investigators are doing well. We have been focusing a huge part of our efforts with finding, and when I say finding I mean talking with EVERYONE on the street. I have found this to be the most effective ways of finding people. I love seeing the blessings and miracles that come from it, plus the more people you talk to, the more neat and interesting people you'll meet, and the greater chance there is to find that person who is ready to hear the Gospel. 

We were debating whether or not we wanted to stay in Cagliari for a preparation day together for the fourth of July. The great example of Anziano Schwing helped convinced me that we should get back to our area as soon as possible, especially after such a great and recharging zone conference. Since he and Anziano Ferrero where heading back that night, we jumped in the car with them. We got back at about 7:30, and still had an hour and a half left in the day, so we went right out and found three people who are interested to hear the message. If we would have stayed it would have delayed their chance to learn of the truth. I love the mission for just little things like this. 

A fun little story, we met with an ex-investigator named Letizia who unfortunately had to stop taking the lessons because her mother is contrary to the church. She still tries to come to English course though, and we set up a little activity in which she taught us how to make cheesecake! I'm proud to say that I can now make a delicious desert! We are going to have some fun cooking when I come home!
Oh! I absolutely forgot to share the most hilarious and saddest story that happened to me and Anziano Hill before he left and it just came to my mind now. We came home after English course one night, and Anziano Hill was pretty eager to get to bed. We waited at the ground floor of our apartment building for the elevator to take us to the fourth, but the yellow button was illuminated signifying that it was occupied. Anziano Hill pressed the button impatiently about ten times still being yellow, so the absolute second that it was available he pressed the button which brought the elevator down towards us. In the elevator shaft we could hear terrifying screams of a little girl. We paused and listened for a second, I looked at him and said, "what did you do!?" As the elevator got closer to us the shrieks and cries from within grew louder. We waited with fright as to what would confront us as the door opened. When it finally landed, the doors opened and a small, three year old girl was there by herself, imprisoned by a descending elevator. When she saw us instead of her mother (which I'm sure was the last thing she saw before the doors closed) she screamed louder, and Anziano Hill knelt down to her level and tried to ask her what floor she lived on so he could send her back up... The poor child felt cornered and cried. I yelled up the stairs to the parents that were rushing down telling them that she was alright. Finally when the mom came the poor little girl felt comforted, but she was so scared and scarred from before, that it was hard for her to catch her breath. She was in her mom's arms, and when she realized that we weren't scary guys in suits she waved to us and said repetitively, "ciao" waving her little hand. Needless to say I was really embarrassed about the whole situation, but the parents knew it was just an accident. In the end it was so cute and amazing to see how quick to forgive children are, and the love they have for others. This is a little testimony from what the Savior says on how we must follow the examples of children and learn from them because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
I love you all so much! We'll see where I'll be next week when I write again because I have no clue! 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 safe week! I miss you all so much! Thank you for your prayers because I need them and I feel them everyday! You're the best! Vi voglio una galassia di bene! Statemi bene!

Con gran affetto.

Anziano Clay Lacey