Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hey guys! How's it going???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you all so much! I hope I can do something fun in Rome and take a great picture. Speaking of pictures you all looked so beautiful in the family pictures! Thank you so much for including me in there! I love you! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg. Have a great week! Vi voglio un sacco di bene!

Un abbraccio forte!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Good Morning!

Buongiorno tutti!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Con affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SarĂ² a Siracusa per Natale!

Hey guys! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Con amore, 

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Una bella giornata a Noto!

Hey guys!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you all so much! I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather, and I love you Greg. Have a great week! Vi voglio un sacco di bene!

Un abbraccio,

Anziano Clay Lacey