Monday, November 13, 2017

This Might Be It

View from the observation tower.

President Pohořelický

Hello everyone, this week has been awesome. I will share a few short updates and then some important information! I am sending my final testimony today and also plenty of pictures from the last two weeks. I am not sure if I will be emailing next week, so this might be it.
  • This week was really good, and the upcoming week should be good as well. We will have an exchange, and good district meeting, some finding with a YSA member who is super cool, and hopefully some lessons.
  • This week we had some good service planting trees on Saturday. We were with Jaroslav Kvasnička who owns the forest, but we actually weren't in his forest, we were in his garden.  From Elder Raines:  "We planted 10 trees, a variety of Almond, Apple, Plum and Pear.  All the members here have their own gardens and really like the missionaries' help on the weekend.  I have learned how to dig a really good hole."

 a really good hole

  • We did have a lesson with J., he told us that he hadn't been able to read in the Book of Mormon yet, so he wanted to meet later. Hopefully we can this week.
  • We also went to a great training on Friday. It was all about love: love for the people, love for our companions and ourselves, love for our areas, and love for the Lord. It was awesome. I also gave my final testimony there, because I am coming to the end of my mission.
From Elder Raines: “Elder Pickett had an amazing testimony this week at training. It has been such a blessing serving around Elder Pickett for 6 months! 6 of the 8 months in the field. He is such a great example for all of the missionaries here. You have an amazing son. Something he really stressed in his testimony is the love he has for the Czech people. And that is something I have really seen. He really loves the people here and serves out of love. He also shared a lot about how much he has seen the hand of God in the work here. Serving around Elder Pickett has been such a blessing!”

From Pres. Pohořelický: "Our sad, great departing missionaries..." 
from the Brno & Bratislava Districts
Sister Morgan (I never served around her, but I know her), me, Elder McClain (Slovak Elder),
 Elder Chadwick, Elder Smith

  • I will be writing in my journal this week, as well as packing. I am planning on leaving some things. I also bought new shoes and another suit.
  • I am actually very at peace with coming home. It's going to happen whether I am okay with it or not, so I might as well be okay with it. Have an awesome week, and I will see you soon! 
From our výlet last week to Svatý Hostýn. 
They trusted us with the keys to the observation tower.

Which leads into the important information. Next week on Tuesday I will fly home from the Czech Republic. It is crazy to think that these two years are coming to an end. At the beginning it seemed like I had a long time ahead of me, and now, looking back on it, it all feels very short. I have had such an amazing experience here and it is hard to see it come to an end. I figured that I could do some bullet-point recaps of some of the biggest experiences that I have had here and remember.
  • I have learned how to work with people from all different backgrounds and parts of the country. Although I have had the same faith as all of my companions, I have seen a wide variety of opinions, experiences, talents, and lives throughout my time here. I have formed friendships that will last for the rest of my life, and have come close to companions in ways that only overcoming difficulties together can provide.
The UH/ Zlin District… no details about this amazing photo!  It needs to be in a "come up with a caption for this photo" contest!  (picture:  Elder Raines)

  • I have learned a lot about myself of these past 2 years. I have learned how to overcome difficulties, how to live outside of my comfort zone, how to manage time, how to be self-motivated, and how to navigate public transportation in a foreign language. I have learned how to budget, how to communicate better, and how to work with others. I have found some new things I didn't know I enjoy.
  • I have learned a new language, and come to know and love a new culture and people. I always heard before my mission that I would come to love the people who I served, but I never truly understood it until I spent 2 years here among them. I have truly come to love the history, culture, traditions, and ways that Czech people live. I have so much respect for all that they have overcome, and for all that they do. They love to help others, they are funny and friendly, even though they take a little bit to trust new people. I have visited them in their homes, talked with them on the streets, in trams, in the metro, and in buses, and everywhere I have gone, my love for them has only grown. I think that a part of my heart will always be left here in this country, and that these people will be dear to me for the rest of my life, no matter where I am living. I am so grateful that God gave me a chance to love the Czechs.
  • But most of all, I have learned about my Savior Jesus Christ. I have learned about His miraculous gospel, that has the power to redeem us, and to lift us. I am so grateful for His outstretched arm, always there to lift us when we fall. I have seen the power of His gospel in my own life and in the lives of others. I have seen miracles as I have watched myself become happier, more peaceful, and more full of joy than I ever imagined possible. I have met people who risked their freedom and their lives to experience such a joy, and have the faith that I for so long took for granted as simply a constant part of my life. I have been humbled by His power to change me and others, and for the miracles that He causes in each of our lives. My hope is that over these past two years I have been able to leave a small portion of His love with people here. I hope that I have been a vessel through which others could feel and recognize that they are important, that they are loved, and that they have a Father in heaven, who truly wants the best for them. As I have lost myself in serving them I have felt that love more than I believed was possible. I know that God lives, and that He loves each one of us more than we can ever imagine. I am so grateful that He gave me these two years to come to know that love in a better way. Leading up I looked at a mission as a two year sacrifice to the Lord, now I look back on it as a two year gift that He has given me, for which I can never adequately repay Him. I love these people, I love my Father in Heaven, and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know He lives.
S láskou,
Starší  Brad Pickett

President Jan Pohořelický and Sister Pavlína Pohořelická

Last training meeting in Brno with Elder Trythall (also from Roseville!)

With Elder Chadwick (MTC companion)

With Elder Robinson (companion last transfer in Zlin)

With Elder Gubler

With Elder Lovell

With Elder Ahrens

With Elders Robinson, Chadwick & Smith

To Dad: I am coming home very soon. It has been a great two years, and a great foundation for my whole life. I really am looking forward to seeing you all. Have an awesome week, and I will see you soon! Thanks for the spiritual thoughts that have inspired, uplifted, and strengthened me over the past two years, they have been awesome. I love you Dad. (Brad has often shared nice thoughts like this with Mom & Caroline... but this was a very timely one for his Dad)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Friday is My Final Training. Zikes.

Picture of Elder Pickett with the Keys. It was a big deal! 
(All pictures this week thanks to Elder Raines!)

Sorry I have been lacking on the good blog posts these last weeks, I have been trying to keep up with people and things happening, and it's been a little rocky. Some quick updates today:
  • We met with J. this last week on Wednesday. He is a doctor and works in a hospital in a city 45 minutes or so outside of Zlín, and lives in a city a few minutes away from that. He is a believer, but doesn't really have a specific church he visits. He is interested in the Book of Mormon, and wants to find out if it's true! We met with him in a cafe, and we have another meeting planned for this Thursday. WE are pretty excited.
  • We also had the Zone Leaders here for district meeting on Friday. It was good, and we had a really successful group finding here in Zlín, even though we only had a short amount of time before they had to leave. From Elder Brockbank (Zone Leader): “We were able to visit their district meeting this week in Zlin and it was so great. I love Elder Pickett! I am so glad that I was able to serve with him for such a long time. He is such a great missionaries and just a great human being.”
  • Elder Schmutz is doing well. And the District is too. They are all good missionaries, just a very different experience to be in such a young district.

UH/ Zlin Elders 

  • Today we went on a trip to Svatý Hostýn, a really cool place with a Catholic cathedral. We became friends with a lady who owns a souvenir shop there by asking her for directions at the train station, and so she got us keys from the people inside to let us go into the observation tower. We borrowed the keys and they just let us go up and then come back and return them. We also got some really tasty lunch.

  • Same experience as described by Elder Raines: "There are Boys here from America and they speak Czech, they are so smart and you need to get someone here to show them around!" From the Grandmother we meet on the bus who wanted us to have a very good  P-day trip today. They ended up just giving us the KEYS for a giant lookout tower and letting us go by ourselves because they were so excited we were here from America and that we spoke Czech. Knowing Czech pays off! 
The lookout tower of Emperor Franz Joseph I.

The first written record of the construction of the lookout tower (which would become a dominant feature of the surrounding area) is June 23, 1897. The highest point of the mountain is 736 m. 
(info from the internet)

 a view from the tower

  • I tell people I have been for a year and a half usually. I round down still. (He learned this technique from his trainer, Elder Galbraith on his last transfer of the mission!) I ordered a mission extension for orders at Zone Training, we'll see if I get lucky. My missionary service doesn't feel like a sacrifice at all.
  • We did have stake conference, an adult session on Saturday evening, and a general session on Sunday morning. We spent the night in UH to avoid unnecessary travel. It was really good. I got to see people from all of my favorite places give talks, it was great. Our conference theme was "We talk of Christ, preach of Christ, and rejoice in Christ." It was a great topic, and there were some awesome talks. One of the talks that stood out to me most was the one from President Honzal, a member of the Stake Presidency. He talked about the importance of bringing everything we do back to Jesus Christ. No matter what we teach and talk about, we have to remember that it all comes back to Him, and to His Atonement and life.  He reminded us how the Savior is the focus of everything we do, but sometimes we forget that and focus too much on other things.  It was a great talk, and a great conference over all.
  • work on pictures.  I took a bunch of pictures today on our pday trip.  We might not have time to send them today. (Elder Raines to the rescue!)
Love you lots.  Have a great week!

Love, Elder Pickett

Monday, October 30, 2017

Keep Working Hard, Not be "Trunky", and Eat Lots of Czech Food

Service and eating in the forest

My Mom asked what I am focusing on as I end my mission… As far as things to do...Keep working hard, not be "trunky," and eat lots of Czech food. Nothing very special. Just be a missionary for as long as they will let me. I will send a good final email with my testimony, don't worry. I might have to send it the week before I go, since I am not really sure that I will have a lot of time that last Monday for emailing. I have to travel to Prague and whatnot. 
  • The work is going well. We are still struggling to find, but we are seeing little things, and we are working with a lot of less-actives and our few recent converts. J. had to reschedule for this Wednesday, so we will meet with him then. It's going, slowly but surely. Elder Schmutz is doing good. Still adjusting, but getting there, slowly but surely.  

Our District
  • We had a good District Meeting this week, and did some finding, and some emergency service for a social services center for families with a child with autism. It was fun, we got to help unload a truck full of furniture.
  • Here are pictures from a Halloween party we had on Thursday. We went to UH and had a singing display with the APs, who were here on exchanges. Then had the party. Lots of kids running around, some fun "minute to win it" style games, and a piñata to finish. It was a good time.

 Elder Chadwick on the guitar, Sestra Dance and Elder Pickett right behind!  (photo from Elder Raines)

  • We will be watching broadcasts of stake conference next week. Which will be good, although we wanted to all go together as missionaries, because it is always a fun little reunion. 
  • The weather is getting cold now. We went tracting in the cold wind last night, which was an adventure. We didn't find anyone, but it was still a memorable and good evening serving the Lord.  And there has been a lot of wind yesterday and today.

From the forest

  • From Jaroslav Kvasnička:  Here are pictures of our other brigade in the forest. Thank you very much for the excellent service and advice. Without you I would not have a chance to make the fence. 

  • We went out to dinner to McDonalds to celebrate my 2 year mark on Saturday. (We had coupons)

  • Yeah, the cottages are adorable (pictures last week). They are right at the edge of the city. Take a bus and then a 5-10 minute walk to get there. And actually a lot of Czechs have cottages. And they frequent them throughout the entire year. Even in the winter. They have a nice wood burning stove for heat in the winter. The member owns it with her daughter and son in law.

  • (Mom attempting to get some feedback about post- mission plans…specifically where to live at BYU) I don't mind walking, even in the snow, I have a lot of mission experience with that, so it won't kill me. I don't know if that offers any real clarification...

Thanks Dad for the spiritual thought as well, we actually watched that talk “Do We Trust Him? Hard is Good” by Elder Stanley G.Ellis in Priesthood meeting yesterday as part of the lesson on trails. It was a good lesson, and a great talk. “...The question “Do we trust Him?” may be better stated, “Do we have the faith to trust Him?”... Do we trust His commandments to be for our good? His leaders, though imperfect, to lead us well? His promises to be sure? Do we trust that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do know us and want to help us? Even in the midst of trials, challenges, and hard times, do we still trust Him?”  My Dad encourages me to do my best to cherish the hard times because that is what will make me more into a disciple of Christ than when times are easy. I am working on having that good perspective, and I think it is going pretty well right now.
Have an awesome week!  
Love,  Elder Pickett
From Elder Raines to illustrate the challenges of the Czech language:  “This week I made a quite funny Czech mistake. I was trying to tell a member about how I cut down a tree during a service project. The correct way to say it is "Pokacel jsem strom". Which means "I cut down a tree" but what I said was "Pokecal jsem si strom", which means kinda like I was trying to eat a tree but as I was eating the tree the tree fell and spilled on me and got all over my clothes. The whole family started to laugh, but also was a little considerate that I actually tried to eat a tree and really hurt myself.”