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