Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Federica si è battezzata!

Hey guys!

It's great to hear that everyone is doing well! This has been a great week altogether and we had a very spiritually uplifting zone conference. I also had my third to last interview of my mission with president! We had a nice chat and he talked more about life outside the mission when I return home than life inside the mission! It was a good, fun interview though.

Well I finally had the amazing opportunity to baptize someone in my mission! On Friday night Federica was baptized and it was a great baptismal service. One of the best if not the best I've seen in my mission!

I want to share the story of how the sisters found her: the sisters needed to go to Catania and they got on the bus and sat near the back. A young 23 year old girl, Federica, got on the bus and sat in the very back and Sorella Spicq had a strong impression to talk with her. She acted on the prompting and asked her, "Do your seat?" Federica simply replied with a yes and Sorella Spicq apologized and said, "Sorry for the silly question but I just felt like I needed to talk to you." They spoke the whole ride from Siracusa to Catania where she invited her to come to English course. 

I met her as she began to frequent my intermediate course, and then she started coming to church and taking the lessons from the sisters. When members first saw her they thought that she was a third sister missionary because of her bright countenance and the spirit that she brings into the room. I am lucky to have had her in my English course and to get to know her and when the sisters invited her to be baptized I guess I was the first one to come into her mind to celebrate the baptism for her. 

About 40 members showed up and we had about 10 that weren't members. It was a very special experience for me as we were in the water and I got to do the baptismal prayer in Italian for the first time... essendo stato incaricato da Gesù Cristo, io ti battezzo nel nome del Padre, e del Figlio, e dello Spirito Santo, amen... it went smoothly, but the funny thing was when she got out of the water she nearly immediately hugged me in front everyone there in the water. It was a very special moment and the youth got a kick out of making fun of me for the hug as a missionary! Oh well!

There was a nice get together afterwards and the relief society brought some delicious refreshments. We had a nice time socializing together and it was a great night.

Also this week I've had the opportunity to give many blessings. A lot of people have been getting sick lately but I'm grateful to have the Priesthood and to be able to serve people in this Christlike way.
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'll let you know what happens as far transfers go... Love you!!!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Battesimo questo venerdì!

Hey guys!!!

I'm glad that everyone is doing so well and that you've had a great week! Thank you for the detailed and encouraging emails! I love you all so much!
I am very excited for this week! I will have the opportunity to baptize Federica on Friday and it will be an amazing experience! We have been helping the sisters organize for the baptism and all the members are very surprised and excited to see someone so young who wants so bad to be baptised! I think the baptism will be something very positive for the ward and hopefully help them spark a stronger interest in missionary work. 

Speaking of that, we just got a new ward mission leader named Fabio, who actually served here in the Catania mission and was still around when the missions were combined and was the first assistant to President Kelly. He just got married and then moved here to Siracusa to work for the church.  He has a very good reputation as a missionary and we just did our first correlation meeting with him yesterday and we are all very excited to collaborate together and really make some changes here in Siracusa. We have made plans to fortify members and their families in order to get them excited about sharing the gospel with their friends. It's a positive thing also because he is so new therefore old stereotypes and mindsets can be out of the question and we can start from scratch...

...Like we have practically been doing with our work here! We have been doing a lot of finding and we have a lot of promising potential investigators. There is a guy named Marco from English course that has been showing a lot of interest in the church so hopefully we can begin teaching him. We are working hard and waiting to see some miracles and success!

We had a neat experience when a member invited us to go make a visit to a less active member who isn't well. We were with him and his wife in a crowded hospital bedroom where we had a nice chat and then we left them with a prayer. It was cool when the others in the room participated in the prayer and said, "amen".

We ended up seeing a friend from English course who was visiting his mother who had just had surgery the day before. We met him and his family and also had a nice visit. As we were exiting a lady who heard us say the prayer came to us and asked us to say a special prayer for her father who was very ill. It was beautiful to see the kind of trust she had in us and that we could help her and her family so much just by a simple prayer. 

Well 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 be sure to take a lot of pictures this week especially of the baptism! Love you!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Over 8,000 views!

The site went over 8,000 views yesterday!  Thank you all for your continued interest in Clay and his mission!  He comes home in less than 5 months!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vi voglio bene!

Hey guys!

I'm so happy that everyone is doing well! I'm sorry about the news with Cola... I'm so sorry! This is probably not the time to joke but I promise the first thing in my mind wasn't a horse burger! R.I.P. Cola!

This has been an interesting week to say the least! I am positive and happy still, but unfortunately we have lost a quite a bit of investigators because we've started cracking down on our missionary purpose and not spending as much time with those that don't have interest in the Gospel and just want to be friends. I feel it's important to still have a friendship with them of course in order to positively influence their lives, but we have the elect to find and baptize! On a good note thought our investigator Giuseppe finally came to a church event: the family home evening we do on Tuesday nights! He loved it because he likes to be a part of little groups so it was one step closer to him FINALLY coming to church!

With our teaching pool now nearly empty, we are hitting the streets and doing a lot of finding and trying new methods to really bring in new investigators. We haven't seen that much success, but that's okay! They are out there waiting! And we are out there finding!

On a happier note I think I've already mentioned it but the sisters have a fantastic investigator and it looks like she is getting baptized at the end of the month. We've made a great friendship with her also and she wants me to baptize her so I'm really excited about that! She has basically only been taught the Restoration (as far as the step to step lessons we must teach) and she already feels ready! She comes to my intermediate English class and she came up to me after and said that she was having some fears and concerns about this date because it was so close. I told her that the sisters had prayed hard for this date, but the most important thing is how she her self feels. I told her boldly that if she went home and continually prayed that night, she would receive her answer if the date is right or not. The next lesson they had she said that she wanted to be baptized on that date! 

It was a neat experience and it goes to show that the Spirit is the real teacher. A lot of people think that missionaries are the one's that are to blame for the miracles that happen in the conversion experience. Not true! We are the lucky little instruments that do the 'inviting' so that these wonderful people can act on their own and see how intimate and personal their relationship with Heavenly Father really is! Would you acknowledge the hammer, or the skilled carpenter that crafted a beautiful chair?

 I have been going a little crazy for this scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 58:
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is abslothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
 27 Verily I say, men should be aanxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are aagents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their breward.
It makes me think of the parable of the talents and how the indolent servant who received one talent didn't go out and multiply that which his Master had given him. Whenever I talk about talents with a group of people they focus on the trivial things we consider to be talents: being musically inclined, some kind of skill, athletic ability, etc. Many are quick to say, "Gosh, I don't have any talents" not realizing that these things can be found, but maybe we should look at something that is the basis to all of these talents, and like I've said a million times before, the central message to Christ's ministry, and even His very existence: love. 
We have all been given the capacity to love, to be loved, and to learn how to love. I think this is a talent!!! We need to occupy our time in developing this talent, and it is a beautiful thing to be so diverse as human beings so that we can share our different methods of showing our love for another. Even with speaking about these trivial talents that some consider to be the most important we can conclude that the basis is always love. To become a pianist one must love to play the piano, to become a teacher one must love influencing someones life for the better, and to become a disciple of God one must love others and think of creative new ideas to serve his/her fellow man.
It makes me think of the beautiful story of the Christmas truce in 1914 during the First World War. German, English and French soldiers began singing carols in their own languages and met in the area between trenches nicknamed "no-man's land" to celebrate the birth of our Savior. They ate, shared pictures of their loved ones back home, played soccer and made bonding friendships with the men that just hours before were trying to kill. God's love can penetrate even the ugliest of circumstances such as war. 
Love has no limits.
We must be anxiously engaged in a good cause to develop this capacity. We have our free agency. Let's use it!
I love you all so much! Thank you for everything you do for me! 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! It's weird being in the 'countdown' phase as now I officially have less than five months in the mission! Crazy! Vi voglio tanto tanto bene!
Vi abbraccio profondamente!
Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nuovo Simpatizzante da America!

Hey guys!

I'm glad everyone is doing good! ...except for the fact that Heather broke her leg! I'm so sorry! Get better soon!!!

Things have been going pretty good here! We had a good week and we found an awesome new investigator! He is a 16 year old American kid from North Carolina here on an exchange student program. I think I told you all a little bit about how we met him but I'll retell the whole story:

We had to get the residence permit for Anziano Smit a few weeks ago, and while we were at the government office called the Questura we noticed a tall young man walk in and we knew he wasn't Italian, so we waited to hear him speak with the person he came with in order to learn where he was from. It turns out we went into the same place to finalize the process and we heard him say to himself: "this is soooo boring.." We laughed and asked him were he was from and he said America so we had a good conversation. He was really interested as to why we are here and it turns out he has had a lot of questions about the church. We gave him our number and invited him to come to church and English course to help out if he wanted.

He didn't come for a few weeks and then we randomly saw him at a city event we felt that we should go to. He told us that he had lost the pass along card that we gave him that one day, and he had passed by the church with no one being there. We got his number this time and we set an appointment to meet with him because he is really interested in the church. We met with him and we had a great lesson talking about the restoration, and he was mostly excited to read the Book of Mormon. We met with him a second time and he's already reading and praying and we invited him to be baptized when he knows these things are true. Who knows, maybe he'll be baptized and then go back to America and then come back to Italy and serve a mission here!

We changed the tide of things here in Siracusa. For every new arriving missionary our ward mission leader does some kind of practical joke. It turns out that Anziano Fiala served with another elder who showed him a video of the prank pulled on him therefore Anziano Fiala had already suspected this kind of welcoming. We decided that it would be better if we got him instead of him getting us. We organized a great joke with other members, and it turned out beautifully! We basically made him think he was about to be mugged while walking on the street... I won't go into details because it might sound worse than it was written, but it was all good and we all had a great laugh!

Finally all of the Italian holidays ended on Sunday so we've been doing a lot of finding work to help fill our teaching pool. We are also working with many less-actives and trying to help families get back to church. Things are going great though and me and Anziano Fiala are excited to be together because we feel we have a lot of potential as two older missionaries serving together towards the end of the mission to really see some miracles happen!

Keep praying for us so that we can be lead to those who are ready and for those who are ready to be lead to us! It has been a while since Siracusa has seen a baptism, but that shouldn't bring us down, as a matter of fact it should get us more vivacious and excited! On a positive note it looks like the sisters might have a baptism! She is this young twenty-three year old young woman who is just awesome and her baptismal date will be for this month if all goes to plan. She has even been talking about me baptising her so that would be a great honor if that is what she'd like!

I love you all so much! Have a great week and let me know if there is anything I can do for you all. I love you Dad, I love you Mom, I love you Morgan, I love you Brooke, I love you Heather (take care of that leg!!!), and I love you Greg. VI voglio tanto tanto bene!

Un abbraccio grande grande!

Anziano Clay Lacey

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Grandi Feste a Siracusa!

Anziano Lacey as Harry Potter?

Hey guys!

This has been a very great past few weeks with celebrating the holidays for the last time in Italy. We have had some very great experiences and I have learned so much! I also now realize what it would be like to be a citizen in a war torn city because New Years Eve was insane! It sounded like bombs were falling all over the place and fireworks from all over the city were everywhere! Our members had a party in church and we really wanted to go but we have a mission rule to be in the house that night by 6:00. It wasn't the most fun thing to do, but we had some great language studies together and we ended up staying up late and witnessed the chaos outside from our balcony...

I am having so much fun with Anziano Fiala! He is a great missionary and a great friend. We are getting along great and I know we are going to do great work together! Now pretty much all of the holidays are over (because it's Italy there's always another one around the corner) so we can continue with working hard and getting things moving ahead.

It was so nice talking to you all on Christmas! You all look so happy, healthy, and I couldn't be more glad to see you all like that! I still can't believe it's only 5 1/2 more months until I'll see you again! 

There is a family that has a t-shirt shop near us and we worked with them a bit to try to begin teaching them and now we have an appointment for next Sunday! We tried to get them to come to church on Sunday, they said that they would, but they didn't end up coming unfortunately. We'll keep hoping and praying because they are a beautiful family and they need the gospel in their lives.

Ida, our new investigator, is doing great and is beginning to read the Book of Mormon. She loves church so much and we are going to push this week to set a baptismal date if we feel like it's the right thing. 

The day after Christmas was another holiday in Italy (the day President lets us watch Disney movies, we say How to Train Your Dragon) so we went to a city close to Ragusa called Monterosso where they did a live nativity scene, and they closed part of this beautiful city in the mountains and turned it into a history/cultural fest to make it look like Sicily back in the 1800's. It was a lot of fun and beautiful to see how people lived during those times. We also ate a ton of great Sicilian food!

Speaking of eating... I don't think I've ever eaten so much in my whole life than I have in the past two weeks!!! We have had so many invites and I absolutely love Sicilian food! I feel like the luckiest missionary ever when it comes to food situations... here in Italy they don't complain whether or not it will taste good but rather if the food comes out pretty or ugly! It's hilarious! 

That's the sum up of the week! I feel like time is so short now on p-days and I have less time to write so I apologize if this seems very short! 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 BUON ANNO!!! Vi voglio bene dal cuore!

con affetto, 

Anziano Clay Lacey