Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Zlin Questions and Answers

 The Czech Fall is incredible. I can't fully do it justice with a camera, but it is beautiful.

Not a lot of time and we had some technical difficulties here, so I will be brief, but informative.
  • Training is going well. Elder Schmutz is doing good with stuff. Slowly but surely learning Czech, and everything else. Best thing about training is probably having a cool greenie to train, and getting to remember my early days, and also getting to show him how awesome Czech culture is and get him to try new things for the first time. I have never trained before, and I don't really remember how long it was until I started understanding stuff.
  • Zlín. It is an interesting city. It's weird being alone in a city (meaning only one companionship of missionaries). I am not used to it at all.  It feels like more of a thing here that people know the missionaries, because there have been missionaries here non-stop for the last 20 plus years. We still meet people who don't know us, a few every day usually, but there are a lot of people who reject us right when we start talking to them, because they already know who we are and don't have interest.
Some food that a member made for us when we went to visit her and 
show her General Conference.
  • We have had a few good contacts with people, but nothing has come of it. This transfer has been really rough, we actually still have yet to find a single new investigator(someone who gives us a name, sets up a return appointment, and gives us a contact) , and I don't know why. But we will see what happens. We saw P. two weeks ago on Monday and talked with him a little bit, but he is not looking to continue yet.
  • We do a lot of walking, and take the bus to UH (where the church building is and the other 4 missionaries in the District). The bus station is a 5-10 minute walk from our apartment. There is only a metro in Prague in the Czech Republic. We don't do a whole ton of tracting (door to door contacting) in our mission in general. We are mostly street contacting. We do some bus contacting as well. We also draw on the ground and do chalk displays.
  • The district is doing awesome and Elder Raines is doing a great job training. Elder Schmutz and Elder Jarvis are doing well. Hardest part of being new missionaries is that they don't really know what's going on most of the time. But they are learning all the time.
The Elders doing some service for a woman whose house burnt down a few months ago
  • For exercise we do some running, some inside stuff, a little bit of everything. I haven't learned how to cook a whole ton of things on my mission. Cooking food just hasn't been a big enough priority.
  • And the pictures from last week are from our service in the forest with Brother Kvasnička. We are helping him to build a fence. We roast špekačky over a fire for lunch. And sometimes hunt for mushrooms if they are around.

Interesting Czech fruit

Love you lots!
Elder Pickett

TRANSLATION: "Sorry, my one love is the library" (from Sestra Sadler’s blog)

Monday, October 9, 2017

We Watched General Conference

From Jaroslav Kvasnička: I'm sending you a promised photo of Pitina. Please send this to your companions.” Waiting for an explanation of the service, mushroom hunting, and roasting food! 

Elder Schmutz,  Jaroslav Kvasnička, Elder Jarvis

Hello everyone! This last week was a great one, and this upcoming week should be great too! Funny how that seems to work out. Here are some updates:
  • We will be going over to send pictures today, don't worry.
  • Elder Schmutz's Czech is coming along well, he understands more and more every day. People we meet want to know if he is German when they first meet him. It's pretty funny, because almost no one has ever heard of Nebraska. They are always confused when he tells them that's where he is from.

First Kebab!
  • A couple weeks ago we had Progressive Training  in Brno. It was for all the new missionaries and their trainers. The STLs/ ZLs prepared the training with us doing role plays to practice teaching.  Companionships that travelled in longer distances stayed over at the ZL’s apartment, so about 10+ missionaries. We didn't crash overnight after Progressive Training, we are really close and have lots of nice travel options to and from Brno.
Elder Raines is training Elder Jarvis… Elder Pickett is training Elder Schmutz

  • We got to do some good service this past week on Tuesday, helping a member whose apartment caught fire a few months ago. We are helping her get all of the burnt wallpaper off of the walls and ceilings. Which has pretty much convinced me to never have wallpaper in my house.
  • We also had a great exchange with the Zone Leaders in Brno. I was with Elder Brockbank and it was awesome. I haven't gotten to serve around him for a while now, and it was fun to catch-up again, and talk about mission experiences, old and new since we have served together. We also  had some good teaching and contacting together. It is always fun to work with someone you already know, because you tend to teach better together.
  • The other big news was the baptism of a girl in the ward here. Her whole family is in the church, and it was fun to go to a baptism like that and just get to watch the whole thing when it was all planned out. We also got to watch General Conference on Saturday, and spent the night at the other Elders house in UH in order to be on time Sunday for the rest. It was great.
General Conference party in UH. This is the English listeners room.  
Elders plus Sister Dance & Sister Hayden

  • We went to a tiny village to visit a recent convert, and we missed basically the only bus option back to Zlín. So we got to walk a few kilometers back. But here is the view of where we were, in selfie format. 

  • Things are progressing slowly but surely. The district is doing really well here.  We are going to have zone training this week.
  • The weather is good. It's been getting colder and colder these past few weeks, but nothing crazy yet. Just a light jacket over the long sleeve shirt when we go out proselyting. We went looking for a coat today and need to find one for Elder Schmutz. It is not snowing, we still have a while for that. It snowed for the first time last year in the middle of November, so I won't have to deal with any real snow on the ground here. 
  • As far as clothes shopping, don't worry, I have been doing that. I have my new grey light jacket, and today I brought a heavy navy blue winter coat for snow and cold. It was on sale for 60 % off, because it is "Last Year's Collection" so I got for around $70 dollars from an outdoor sports store. It is a nice heavy duty Columbia brand jacket. And last week I bought a suit for about $100. And I have purchased 5 long sleeve white shirts in the last 2 transfers. I also bought a nice, non-mission sweater today for about $17. I am thinking about a 2nd suit, but I haven't decided if I really want one yet. Also I will be getting another pair of nice shoes. But don't worry Mom, I am getting some good European clothing shopping in.
My spiritual thought actually comes from conference. It isn't from a specific talk, but from the experience of conference in general. Going into conference I didn't think of many specific questions that I wanted answered, but I was certainly looking for guidance (Mom note… especially as he is coming to the end of this amazing missionary experience!). As I watched the sessions, it helped to rearrange things in my brain. I am not sure how to describe it very well, but basically I felt like it unscrambled and reorganized my priorities and thoughts into what they needed to be. I have felt much more peaceful since watching it. I just wanted to bear testimony that I know that the speakers at General Conference have been chosen by the Lord to address us, and that their talks can have a valuable impact on our lives. I invite you all to continue studying, or read for the first time, the talks from conference and listen for the Spirit to tell you specific things for you to do or change in your life. As you listen to that Spirit, you will be led to greater happiness and peace. Thanks for all the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett
One of my all time favorite quotes "Wherever thou art, act well thy part."  -President McKay

Pictures from last transfer- Elders Gauldin, Raines, Robinson and Pickett

Monday, October 2, 2017

We Are Not Counting Down

Beautiful Czech countryside-- Uherské Hradiště maybe?  (photo credit: Elder Raines)

Things are going pretty well here in Zlín. The toughest part so far is that we have yet to find a single investigator this transfer, and I don't want Elder Schmutz to have the bad expectation that we don't find people in our mission. The problem is that we just haven't found anyone with real interest yet.
  • Elder Schmutz and I are doing well. We got some rain, and we will get some more this week as well. I don't really know how to describe people's learning styles...But we talk about Czech and he is learning step by step with it. I am trying to figure out how he is doing for reals, not just on the surface, don't worry Mom. As a new missionary, he is little tired and not used to the neverendingness of missionary work, but that's to be expected.
  • Elder Schmutz’ 3 best qualities...He wants to teach people, he's good at planning and thinking ahead, and he is diligent about studying the scriptures.
  • The ward members are great and the ward mission leader too. He is a very to-the-point kind of guy. He is efficient, and gets missionary work and the gospel really well. He has a great knowledge of the scriptures and the gospel too. He is encouraging us speak just Czech outside of English class. That's not really happening, but we are speaking it more. I am just not really a fan of trying to speak only Czech to a new missionary. Everything we did would take a few hours extra of translation.
  • As far as what we do in our UH ward as missionaries, Elder Gauldin and I translated sacrament meeting for the American member who lives here, and now that Elder Gauldin is gone, I translate for him. I really like translating though, so I enjoy it. We taught Gospel Essentials a few times last transfer, mostly at the beginning. But it's been a while. And we are also in the choir for the Christmas program, which will take place after I go home, which is lame. But we are practicing for it because my companion will be there for it.
Elder Jarvis (new trainee) & Elder Raines- in our UH/ Zlin District 
  • I heard good reports about LDS General Conference. We are going to watch it this weekend. Hopefully in English, because no one will understand anything that they are saying in Czech since our district is young in the mission, except maybe me. Maybe I could understand. Maybe not.
  • Trainings and other fun coming up… Exchanges this week, Thursday to Friday with the Zone Leaders in Brno. I will exchange with Elder Brockbank (former companion) and Elder Schmutz with Elder Collins. Training 11 October there as well. Elder Schmutz won't have visa work for a long time, because he has a year long visa.
  • Information on my MTC District- Elder Paxton will finish in HK,  Elder Anderson in Plzen, Elder Chadwick in Prague, and Elder Smith in Slovakia.  Elder McClain serving in Slovakia and Sister Morgan, who is in Brno, will go home with us. I don't have my flight plans, I will probably see them in 2 weeks at training.
  • Hahaha, to start off with, I am dying at your postal adventure Mom (ongoing saga of the broken box and the lost items sent to the Dead Letter office…) It turns out that bureaucracies are a nightmare all over the world. I will tell you a few postal horror stories from my time in the office when I get home. Funny to be serving here as a missionary, and probably the angriest I have ever been is when I was at a post office, not dealing with people on the street. But way to do some digging. The good news is that I tried to not send anything home that will kill me if it somehow gets sucked into the great black hole of postal deliveries gone wrong. Sorry about the 1s. If I had a 7 written on there it would have been really clear to them which was which, but the addresses didn't have any 7s in them...I am also still confused about why she told you it was gone already and then magically found it. She didn't just find it the first time?

My spiritual thought is from my Dad about conversion. He shared with me that as a missionary, no matter who I help to bring back to activity or baptize, or who I teach, that when I finish my mission, I should be the one that is most converted. I should be the one who has changed the most. He encouraged me to ponder that, to recognize spiritual growth, not only in knowledge but also in small spiritual experiences that helped to shape my conversion and mission experience thus far. That is great mission advice. I definitely have some of those moments of feeling the spirit so strong no matter the outcome for the person I am teaching, and I actually have a little notebook I write them down in, to look over again later. I am not super great at journaling anymore, but I try to at least write down some spiritual experiences, impressions, and interesting insights into the gospel that I hear or read, or receive as "sudden strokes" of inspiration as Joseph Smith called them. Thanks for the thoughts and encouragements. Have a great week. Out of time, sorry. Love you lots.

Elder Pickett

No pictures this week but here’s some more Elder Pickett sightings from the Sept 9th 
Wallace Toronto Foundation service project

 Mom spotting eyes… upper left quadrant with back to us then turned around (below)!

 Elder Gauldin & Elder Pickett seem to be supervising 
Elder Raines & Elder Robinson doing the heavy lifting!

UH District Sisters (before last transfer)- Sister Ludlow & Sister Hayden 
with Sister Sadler & Sister Peterson (Olomouc)

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Week of Firsts

Elder Schmutz' first time tracting and this is where we tracted.

Hello everyone, this has been a good week, full of firsts for my new companion! Elder Schmutz just flew in on Tuesday to the Czech Republic, and almost has a week of in the field experience under his belt. He is awesome, and is doing really well. It gives me fun memories to when I was new, reminds me of my first transfer, which is weird to relive again . I will list some of the highlights from this last week:
  • On Tuesday Elder Raines and I took a train into Prague to meet up with all of the trainers for the trainer meeting. All 17 of us trainers, for 16 new missionaries, met together to talk about how important training is, and the do's and dont's of training. We talked about how the beginning experiences of a mission can form the expectations for what the rest of their mission will be like, so it's important to make those good expectations. And we also ate Halušky. Always a good thing.
  • The next morning we all met and ate breakfast together, and then President talked about some stuff that was going on in the mission and gave a little opening. After that he put up a big map of the Czech Republic on the board, and told people where they were going. We did all of that, and then went off to our areas. We took a train and got home at 3pm or so, and did a bit of contacting! It was fun to remember my first night contacting and having absolutely no clue what was happening.
  • We also had some new firsts for Elder Schmutz this week, such as: tracting, drinking kofola, eating halušky, having district meeting, taking a bus to church, church in czech, and many more. Pictures!
 First Kofola- Elder Schmutz (this is THE soda that the missionaries all drink… 
and mostly love)

First Halušky- a missionary FAVORITE!

  • We had lots of good conversations with people this week, but didn't really have too many people who wanted to talk more. Next week will be better.
  • We also went on a trip to a castle today, but we ended up at a Chateau instead. It was still nice though.
Zamek Buchlovice (chateau and garden) We visited today. And some trees there. 

  • Elder Schmutz is from Omaha Nebraska.  I am enjoying my time with him. He is a good one, and really wants to be a good missionary. Our district is really, really young. In UH Elder Raines is training Elder Jarvis and Sisters Hayden & Dance are companions.
  • (Caroline remembered that Brad’s trainer Elder Galbraith was a good cook and that helped a lot 1st transfer.  So she wanted to know if he is keeping that tradition going.)  I am not a cooking master, but I may have mastered spaghetti by this point. I like spaghetti. Also I can make Halušky from the box, which is good.
Today's spiritual thought is about the scriptures. We finished the Book of Mormon this last week, and we have now started on the Bible. We are reading 13 pages a day in order to finish the Bible in 2 transfers. It is always great for me to recognize how much we receive from studying the scriptures. I know that as we read them we will receive greater strength and feel the Spirit more abundantly in our lives. Thanks for all the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

Adventures in mailing a package from the Czech Republic.  Apparently it arrive in Roseville end of July (while we were gone and mail was on hold… but then it didn’t get delivered and no notice from the PO).  Final notice arrived in Saturday’s mail.  Apparently, the box broke or opened or something and probably half the contents spilled out.  The postal workers put some items back (who knows what happened to the rest) and then added 3 books just for kicks?  The loose items went to the Dead Letter Office in San Francisco.  As far as we can tell… many letters addressed to Brad were bundled up and sent back to the MTC because all the others were addressed to the Czech Republic Mission Home.  The Head of the MTC Mail Room is related to some great friends, recognized Brad’s name, and sent the letters to our address?! Also when I went to pick it up today, they told me it already got sent back to the Czech Republic. They eventually found (another ridiculous story).

The Dead Letter Office is also mailing letters back to sender or sending them back to the Czech Republic.  If you get one that you sent to Brad, please mail it to the Pickett household.  He intended to keep it.  

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

The contents of “the box!”  USPS loses some items so then just randomly includes 3 books  instead?!  They even included the original box.  Many items lost.  Sad.

From Elder Pickett:  Yeah, I was going to write and ask about the letter thing. I am just glad that the post office has the box at all. I did multiple layers of tape around it, but maybe it wasn't heavy duty enough tape, I just used what we had available...There should be all my planners except my last 3 transfers, a little Czech song book, and a small Catholic prayer book in Czech from a grandma. And letters. That should be it. I am getting some of the letters sent back again, which is an adventure. Hopefully most of them are still with the box.

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's the Final Transfer

From Elder Raines:  “Ahoj Social Workers'' - group of 10 year old kids that for some reason thought we were social workers. (picture: Elder Raines)

This was the last week of the transfer. It was filled with fun. Here are some highlights:
  • We met with a less-active, who has a really cool story. He is right now having some health problems, but he is getting back to health slowly, and really wants to come back to the church. He has been a member for a long time, and has decided that now is his time to work on coming back. We had a great lesson with him, after trying to set-up for almost a month.
                                  This is Elder Robinson tracting and looking majestic.

  • P. doesn't really want to keep meeting regularly right now, he wants to wait for a while until he sees the results from training. We are going to work on having contact with him regularly.
  • We also went and did service in the forest again. And we went mushroom hunting. Which is a great Czech tradition. We found a lot of very large mushrooms, and actually fried some of them up. I have pictures, which I will send next week.
  • I had an exchange with Elder Raines. It was great, we did a table display on the namesti, which was very successful. 
                 Wallace Toronto Foundation service- Mission President Jan Pohořelický 

  • We also got transfer calls. I am staying here and training, and so is Elder Raines in UH. And Sister Dance came from Ostrava to serve with Sister Hayden. Elder Robinson went to Frydek Mistek to follow up train. Elder Gauldin went to Olomouc to train and follow up train in a trio. Which is nuts.
  • I don't know the name of my new missionary trainee. We find out Wednesday morning. Elder Raines and I are companions in UH until we go to Prague tomorrow for a trainer meeting.  We are both training new missionaries. Then we stay overnight. I saw the picture of the MTC District (Mom sent it on with names), and I am very curious...
  • I got to chat with President McConkie when he was here for the Wallace Toronto Foundation Service. He is awesome. 
                                           Former Mission President James McConkie

Wallace Toronto Foundation Service
  • I appreciate the thoughts about the temple Mom & Dad. I loved going there weekly, and I have missed attending the temple while I have been here. I plan to go very frequently, it is always a great place to be.
Spiritual thought for the week is about time. As I am starting my final transfer I have been thinking about time a lot. I have recognized that the less and less time I have left, the more and more precious it becomes for me. So I wanted to quickly talk about the importance of trying to seize the moment and use it to the fullest. That is my goal for this transfer. Thanks for all the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett
Elder Robinson and Elder Pickett at church on Sunday

From Karen Dean (Elder Dean’s Mom): “When I walked in to church, I saw him instantly. I told him who I was and said,"You know I'm going to have to take a picture of you." He knew it. He was my translator for Sacrament meeting & for Sunday school. He is doing really well. He looks so happy.”

Me with Elder Merrill, who is going home.