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