Monday, January 25, 2016

Week 4? Week 5? It's all running together at this point...

So. I have some fun things that occurred this week to talk about. But they were all caused by 1 major event. So I will tell about that first. When I arrived here in C-Bud, President McConkie described the area as "literally on fire." And it was. They had a lot of people on baptismal date, and lots of people with sincere interest in the gospel who were learning a lot and coming closer to Jesus Christ. Which is basically our whole entire goal as missionaries, so we are excited when that is happening. Unfortunately, when I showed up I brought the cold and the snow (Wait… is Elder Brad like Else from “Frozen?”  He can’t be… because the cold definitely bothers him, ha ha). And cold and snow have a bit of a tendency to put out fires...
  • To put this into perspective of how much our fire dwindled, at one point this past week, due to some miscommunications with an investigator in our last lesson, we had no investigators. Not one. Because he temporarily dropped us, because he thought we dropped him. Elder Galbraith has been here almost 2 full years. He has never before had no investigators. But there we were, for 20 minutes, without a single one. Let's just say that we were reeling in shock quite a bit, and our language study was not very productive. But turns out, he didn't mean to drop us, so we were all good.
  • So we contacted this week. A lot. We had multiple blocks of at least 3 hours where we were outside (all bundled-up) in the snow trying to talk to people about the gospel. Oddly enough, we find that people are more polite to us and more willing to talk when it is freezing cold outside. Not sure why. We are stuck between they are 1) impressed by our dedication and decide to stop to at least see what we're all about or 2) just as crazy as us (because they are out in the snow) and so not all uncomfortable to stop and talk with two young strangers about their thoughts about such things as the purpose of life and the role of Jesus Christ and prayer in it. From his companion Elder Galbraith:  During one of our multiple hour contacting blocks this week (this one being 4 hours straight, so not the worst we had), we were outside in -17 degree Celsius weather, which is a grand total of 1 degree Fahrenheit. It makes the current 0 degrees feel like the middle of summer though!
It was decently cold.
  • We also went tracting down a rather snowy street and met the most polite people to ever reject us. Other than 1-2 rude gentlemen, everyone was very nice in their rejections. No one wanted to talk to us, but they were very nice about not wanting to talk to us. So that was really good. We prefer those kinds of rejections.
  • We walk to the town square basically every day. The church building is right off of the main square and we teach most all of our investigator lessons. We go out to the suburbs to tract about 1 evening a week. We're going bus contacting this week, so I will have a chance for some fun conversations I expect.

Town Hall on the main square (náměstí Přemysla Otakara II) and the city square (taken by a different Elder in a different season!)

  • We also did a singing display as a District. Where 2 missionaries stand and sing songs in Czech and 2 go out and contact. When I was out contacting, the first guy I tried to talk to basically told me to get lost. It was an interesting start...
  • Good things did happen this week though. We had lots of conversations with people that were very nice, and even if they decided they didn't want to meet with us, they still respected us and were curious at least about who we are and what we are about. We also met an English speaking gentleman from England, and we started teaching him. That is a good one, because I can understand everything that is happening during that!
  •  The problem we mainly run into is we can't figure out how to draw people to the gospel. Most people when they hear that we are talking about religion don't want to talk to us. Mainly they have a very strong atheistic influence from communism, and if they are religious, they have a strong distrust of organized religions trying to take your money and control your life. So it's difficult. There are also a lot of people here who ascribe to being Buddhist. Which was unexpected for me.
  • Oh man, my sense of humor is probably my best coping mechanism. I joke around plenty with my companion. And he laughs easily, so that is good too. We have fun together. Some peoples' responses to us make so little sense you can't not laugh about them. Our favorite is when people say "I don't want anything!" or "I am nothing!" in Czech and keep walking past us. We joke about how the Czech people are just too humble, even for the Gospel it appears.
  • Also we had Branch Conference. Which President McConkie came and spoke at. I didn't understand most of his talk, but I DID understand his testimony of Jesus Christ, and that he said after it that if we didn't get anything from his talk, he wanted us to get that. So that was pretty awesome.
  • Speaking of understanding...My Czech is coming along. Slowly. As always. I can usually kind of understand people, as long as they use enough vocabulary that I know. Which means when we stop talking about the Gospel, I get lost pretty quickly, because that's really all that I know. It is also really funny because when people are talking to us during contacts, they look back and forth, not realizing that I have no idea what they are saying. So they are talking to both of us, but really just to Elder Galbraith most of the time. It's great fun.
  • My favorite things about Czech culture...The food is amazing. Public transportation is fun, and it is very much used here. Czech pants. Czech pants are able to be purchased in pretty much any size. I have seen basically every age you could imagine of people wearing them. They are pretty jazzy. (pictures in last week's blog post)
  • Halušky. It is macaroni and cheese, except superior in literally every way. Unfortunately it is not possible to make in the US. Unless you know a way to get unpasteurized cheese, which is illegal to sell. It is actually the signature Slovak dish, but my companion served in Slovakia for a transfer, so he loves it. We make it from a box, but it can also be made from scratch. There is also an option to make it with cabbage instead of cheese. Not sure how that would be. And I have heard some people use cottage cheese instead of Brynza (the cheese you can't buy in the US). Also, if you can find out how to make good Svičková, that might change your life forever. But it will be difficult to judge, because you have not tried it in the Czech Republic before...

The town square (or naměstí) in Jindřichův Hradec, where we visited today.

 A cool kostel (how you say church in Czech).

 The 15 meridian line.  It is a thing.

Elder Galbraith has developed sore shoulders. This is how he stretches.  
(nice to get a glimpse of part of their apartment... weights, a keyboard, ironing supplies!)

Spiritual thought for the week is about Christ. It comes from Luke 22. Starting in verses 41-44. This is when Christ is performing the Atonement. He is suffering for the pains and the afflictions and the sins of the entire world. More suffering and pain than anyone has ever had to go through. Then after that, he gets betrayed by Judas, one of the 12 Apostles! Someone who was with Him during miracles and teaching, and still betrays Him. And He knows that He is being taken to be killed. He has prophesied about it His whole ministry. But He takes the time to heal the guard's ear after one of the Apostles tries to fight back. He is in the middle of the most difficult, agonizing thing that has ever been completed by anyone in the world. Yet he takes the time, and has the compassion to heal this man. What does that mean for us? I think it means 2 major things. One, going through challenges and trials in our own lives gives us compassion and empathy for others when we see that they are suffering. Two, we can always take the time to help. We can always put in the effort and always find a way to serve those around us.
Thanks for all the support and emails and prayers! You all rock!
-Starší Pickett

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week 3... Really? Already? In České Budějovice

Good afternoon and greetings from the Czech Republic! In České Budějovice. The reason that I cannot adequetely explain how to pronounce this city (we asked for a pronunciation guide) is because the "děj" letter combination does not really have an equivalent sound in the English language... Now that my Game Show Host moment is over, I will move on to the updates from this week. Compiled in no particular order, are some fun things that have occurred this week, or last week, or the week before and I forgot to include them. I hope you enjoy.

Some pictures from last week's trip to a cool tomb in Třeboň

This picture basically summarizes our district to the t...

  • So, last Saturday we went to "Follow-up Training" for new missionaries in Brno. Where we reunited as an MTC district and received some welcome encouragement from President McConkie. It was fun to learn that although I don't understand what people are saying, I am not alone in that. No one else in my district does either. So that was a fun thing to learn. It really was a great training and we talked about a lot of great missionary things. President McConkie is awesome. He has lots of great historical insights and spiritual insights on scriptures, and is also an excellent public speaker.
This is our MTC Czech District 
(this was taken at the MTC)
  • We also enjoyed some very strange weather this week. It has been generally cold (It's the Czech Republic in the middle of January, that's kind of a given) with some snow, and then some rain on Thursday. So that was a bit different. On Saturday morning, my companion and I awoke to a blanket of snow. And it was still snowing. And then the sun came out and melted a lot of it. And then, while we were finishing up Weekly Planning and preparing to go out again, it began to snow again. And then Saturday night it snowed. Quite a bit. And continued to snow through virtually all of Sunday. Which leads me to my next thought.
  • On Sunday, people generally do not want to meet. I don't know why. And our investigator pool is rather shallow at the moment (think of a kiddie pool). So we went out contacting and tracting. For about 4-5 hours. I will show you the sight we saw as we prepared to leave in picture form. It was an adventure to say the least.
View from our apartment as we got ready to leave
  • We also went on exchanges. This requires a bit of background. In the mission field, the Mission Presidents call two missionaries to serve as Assistants. He also assigns Zone Leaders (we have 3 zones in the Czech Republic and 1 in Slovakia). And then finally, District Leaders. (Each zone has 3-4ish Districts). This is the path of communication. The District Leaders get calls/reports for statistics, and send it up to Zone Leaders, who give it to the Assistants, who give it to the President. Once a transfer, we do exchanges. Where we are split up from our companion and go for 24ish hours with one of the Zone Leaders. They then give us some feedback and direction and can report more accurately to the President on our progress. So we went up to Plzeň for our exchange. I spent the day contacting with Elder Cook, because our two appointments both fell through. It was a good time. We seemed to meet a lot more people willing to talk to us, so that was fun. Still couldn't understand what they were saying, but at least we were getting somewhere. It was a good experience.
  • Some fun Czech improvement. Every other week, Elder Galbraith and I visit an elderly woman in our branch. She is awesome. Actually we have two or three we visit and they are all awesome. But this one in particular, we visited her on my very first full day here in C-Bud. And I couldn't understand a word she was saying. This week, I could follow the conversation. I didn't understand all of the vocab, but I could follow the general topic of discussion for almost the whole time, including when she was asking Elder Galbraith what he wants in a painting before he leaves, and also when she was reprimanding us for not wearing hats. (We brought them to church so we wouldn't get in trouble) It was really cool to get to have an opportunity to recognize that although I am still lost during virtually every contact and lesson, I am definitely improving.
  • As a final fun note, we had a fun little fireworks display outside of our apartment on 8:15 on Friday Night. Not entirely sure the significance of January 15th in the Czech Republic, but someone was celebrating something.

A Kabob. These don't exist in America. For that you have my condolences. Lunch today was amazing.  The Kabob is chicken, french fries, and sauce (yummy) inside a Pita bread type thing. Very, very good. Not very healthy, but very, very good.

Fried rice from my companion's skilled chef hands!

Our District Meeting my first week, with dinner. Our apartment.
(Elder Galbraith, Elder Pickett in the mirror, Sister DeMann, Sister Birkeland)

From Elder Galbraith:  "I always put the kofala and our cups in the freezer while I make Halušky every Sunday but this week we came to the conclusion that it was probably colder outside than in our freezer so it would cool down faster...."

Spiritual thought for the week. I read a conference talk this week, or maybe last week that was really good. I believe it is the one called "Testimony" by Elder Oaks in 2008.
He talked about the importance of prophets. Since we have personal revelation and a personal relationship with the Lord, some people wonder why we need the prophets at all. Elder Oaks explains it very well. For ourselves, we receive knowledge from God through personal revelation. Through prophets, we receive commandments and ordinances. It was interesting to realize that fact. Ordinances are important too. We make promises with God and receive awesome promises and blessings in return. We couldn't have that without prophets! So my challenge this week is to study one General Conference talk to help you personally better understand the importance of modern day prophets.

Thanks for all of the love and support, and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

Czech pants. More Czech pants. So many Czech pants options.
(these are the pants that Brad thinks we might need... ha ha ha)

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's Cold!

Good morning America! I feel like a news anchor with that opening. Let me see, where to even begin. I missed some things last week, so I will start there.

My companion:
  • Elder Galbraith. Some fun lingual things about missions. When you are going home, we call it "dying." And if you are companions with a "dying" missionary, then you "kill" them at the end. So, Elder Galbraith is dying this transfer, which means I will be the one who killed him. He served one transfer in Slovakia while he has been here, has excellent Czech, and is an excellent missionary/trainer. He also is very good friends with two of my roommates from the summer at BYU, there's the Mormon small world coming into play again. He also loves shopping. Turns out I actually read one of Elder Galbraith's emails (about Czech killer bees) before I left...I got it from Austin. So yeah, that was a weird thing to realize.

From Elder Galbraith: “Elder Pickett's first week of personal study captured in one picture.  The jet lag and only getting 7 hours of sleep every day as an Elder in CBud really takes it out of you....”
·         Added in from Mom-- From Elder Galbraith’s email home:  “Not too much happened this week. We've honestly been hitting a very unexpected brick wall with missionary work lately. It's been a struggle to find people who actually want to listen to our message but I'm motivated each and every day to give it my all since I don't have much time left to wear the name badge.  Elder Pickett has been progressing a lot this past week. He's willing to step up to the plate when I ask him to and he's been blessed as a result of it. He has a wonderful future ahead of him! I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve. Though days where we contact all day sure are a lot more difficult than days when we are indoors all day teaching lesson after lesson, I'm grateful for the chance to represent Jesus Christ.”

The area:
  • C-BUD is a decent sized Czech city, making it a very small US one. It has buses, which we take to the "suburbs" for tracting (more on that later). It has a University, so we talk with lots of college students and people who are studying here.
  • It has a small branch of about 20-25 attending members every week. There are very, very few children in the primary. (think 1 or 2)
The language:
·         Something that makes Czech so difficult is that there are different words for when you are saying something in a different manner/context. For example: there are 3 verbs for "to know," 2 for "to understand" and 3 different words for "if." Also, I still cannot understand what anyone is saying. I'm starting to catch every twelve-hundredth word or so, so I feel like I am improving. I am working on the language. I have decided my two options are to laugh about it, or be frustrated. I would much rather laugh, so I do that.

From Elder Galbraith: “Elder Pickett making his first phone call! He had no idea what the person was saying on the other end of the line but he did his best at it! That's mah boy.”

The people:
  • So, first let me start off with a disclaimer. We try to talk to virtually everyone. If they are not obviously drunk or appear crazy, we try to talk to them. We have had many normal, and even productive conversations...But those are much less fun to report on. So, following is a last of the strangest people that we have talked with/weirdest conversations that have occurred. (The vast majority come to you second hand, because I have to ask my trainer what everyone is saying). We have talked with: 1) a gentleman who told us that God is the sun. Not a son. Not has a son. Not created the sun. But literally is the sun. 2) A gentleman who was dressed in a trench coat, unbuttoned, flaring out behind him like a cape. Also finger-less gloves and a Draculaish haircut. Flaring out on the sides. He spoke Czech so fast that my trainer caught about 50% of what he was saying. And he showed us his Anarchy necklace he was wearing. Good times. 3) A gentleman who told us about how we have personal weaknesses, but it's all good, we don't need to do anything or try to get better. I don't think I have ever met a single human-being before who did not think that self-improvement was a good idea. I was a little in shock. I could tell the conversation was getting weirder and weirder, because my trainer was starting to ask questions like "why?" and saying "I don't understand what you're saying." 4) We met a Satanist. Who told us in English that he believes in all things evil and bad. And all this time, I though those people were kind of like an urban legend. Apparently not. 5) We also were supposed to have a lesson with an elderly couple, who texted us saying "Our children talked to us and told us that your church is a cult. So please never contact us again."
  • As I said before, the majority of people we talk with are normal and nice. Ish. Most of them don't want to talk to us. But they still wish us a nice day if we wish them one, even when they say they don't care what we have to say and have no interest. So that's fun I guess.
Tracting: There are many adventures that go along with tracting. We take the  bus out to suburbanish areas and try to ring people's doorbells and talk to them. The whole concept is an adventure. But I will endeavor to explain some of the unique fun parts of Czech tracting.
  • There are no true "suburbs." The houses are all very unique, and sometimes have multiple families living in what appears to be one house. And you don't know until you ring the bell.
  • You must first find the bell. These can be set into the wall by the door as is usual in America. They can also be on the gate of the fence surrounding their house, with or without an intercom. They can also be taped to a fence area. They can also be set into the wall on the street. It's like a treasure hunt every time! Also, sometimes you have no way of telling if they work or not. Also, sometimes they just don't exist. But wait, that's not all, because most bells reverberate through the entire building, causing multiple people to answer at once.
  • Where will people answer? Sometimes out the door. Sometimes out the window. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes they open the door to their balcony and talk to you. Often, one will come to the door, while another pokes their head out of a window, and you and your companion are left each talking to one person from the same family.
  • Also, I cannot figure out the configurations for streets here. So you will almost guaranteed, get lost. Tracting is great.
Trials & Adversity: The beginning of this past week, really Saturday night through Wednesday morning was really tough. I was feeling really cold, really discourage with the language and with my ability to talk to people and contribute at all. I don't generally like walking up to strangers and trying to talk to them, and I was not having a good time with that either. But my companion gave an amazing spiritual thought during out District meeting on Wednesday. He talked about a lot of things, about what we can and cannot control as missionaries, and other things. One of the things he touched on was that our Faith and Obedience are two of the biggest things we can control. And that's what we should focus on. He also talked about 1 Nephi 4 and how Nephi was trying to fulfill a commandment from God that seemed impossible for him. He had tried to get the plates twice and been threatened with death. But he went forward anyways with faith. It really spoke to me. Right now, I feel like I can't do much, and I can't magnify my call because I can hardly say or understand anything in Czech. But I realized I needed to re-focus on what I could control instead. My week became a lot better after that, even though we didn't experience any more success. But as I was reflecting on that message that night while I was writing in my journal I remembered a specific line from my Patriarchal Blessing, that I realized had been fulfilled by our District Meeting spiritual thought. By looking to the example of Nephi, I was able to go forward again with renewed determination and faith. It was an awesome personal spiritual moment for me.

Sooooo. Christmas presents. All of the Czech Christmas markets that are on the town squares during Christmas are already gone. But, I have an idea for this Christmas. Next Christmas, I can do fun Czech things from the markets. This Christmas...maybe Czech pants? They are a popular thing here. They look horrible, but they are great. I will send pictures with options of colors next week. If you are disturbed, I can certainly find other things. Just a possibility.  (Stay tuned next week for pictures…??) It is good stuff. Or rather, completely terrible stuff. But in the best way.

Třeboň. We visited a cool tomb. (p-day)

My spiritual thought for the week is about Christ. There is a scripture, which I cannot remember the reference for right now, about Him leaving peace with us. I know that when we follow the example of the Savior and strive to live as He did, we can feel that peace. I invite all of you to ponder about when you have felt the most peace in your life, and what has caused it. If you can't think of one, try to find a way that you can live more like the Savior did, and you will feel that peace. I know that He lived and died for us. And then when we follow Him, we will find peace. Love you all, thanks for the support!
-Elder Pickett

Some MTC photos

Christmas Eve- Czech Elders opening gifts and my stocking presents (those Hand Warmers are coming in handy!)

Our MTC Zone... people leaving together to different places.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Dobré Rano... I Am Here!

Dobrý den! Actually I guess dobré rano is probably more appropriate for you all. I am here! Where exactly is here? I am the library in České Budějovice, a decent sized city in the Southwestern corner of Česká Republicka with my companion/trainer Elder Galbraith (He has been out 23 months, this is his last transfer). If you are wondering how to pronounce the city, I have absolutely no way to explain it, you'll just have to wait until I get home, or you can talk with a native Czech speaker who also knows English. 

It is difficult to feel like I personally am doing much, because I can't speak the language or understand it. But I have faith that I am exactly where I need to be, and I plan to learn, and to testify. For your New Year's Resolutions I invite you all to consider the role that the Savior plays in your life currently, and how you can strengthen the relationship you have with Him. (Hint: service is a great place to start)

So many things happened this week I hardly know where to even begin. 

Let's go with Christmas. Highlights:
  • Elder Bednar and his wife did a Q&A session at the MTC. That was fantastic. He is the coolest. He talked a lot about being an agent to act instead of an object to be acted upon. I think that it is very important to remember that we have agency over all aspects of our life. We should actively take responsibility for our own spiritual well-being and study the scriptures and pray with purpose and willpower
  • The choir (which I was in) sang a real choir song. An awesome arrangement of "The First Noel." It has parts and everything and it was great. The choir director at the MTC is pretty much my musical/probably-also-spiritual hero
  • I got to talk to my family on the phone! This is the first year that they have let missionaries talk with their families and it was awesome!
  • David Archuleta put on a concert for us with some other fun musical characters (try not to be too jealous). We think that some Sister missionaries possibly died from over-excitement. It was never publically acknowledged, but we are fairly certain.
That was Christmas in a very fast nutshell, because I have way too much else to talk about today. For some reason. Packing was a lot But it was completed.
Travel highlights:
MTC Czech District in matching Christmas scarves!
  • We all got our Visas! So that was a happy time for us. It was confirmed officially on Sunday. As in the day before we left.
  • We got to leave at 8:30 so we didn't have to wake up at 1 in the morning like many other do.
  • The Slovaks came with us, and so we had a travel party of 12. We loaded onto a Charter Bus. And we believe that literally the entire rest of the bus other than us 12 was all headed to Argentina. It was just a little bit insane.
  • Our first flight to Dallas got us there at 5ish. We were supposed to start boarding for London at 5. And leave at 5:30. We did not waste any time getting over to our next terminal.
  • I slept on the way to Dallas. And to London. And to Prague. Basically, I have inherited my father's ability to sleep anywhere the need arises.
  • We were in two big blocks on the London and Prague flights, and reasonably close together on the Dallas one too.
  • The London airport was an adventure. First time out of the country. British accents are pretty awesome. It is big. Very big. As in if you have to switch terminals you need to take a bus. That big. We didn't have to, which was good, because we had a very short layover and might not have made it there.
  • Jet lag. Let me just tell you. We left Dallas at about 6 PM and arrived in London at about 9:45 AM the next morning. While flying over the Atlantic Ocean we also jumped forward 7 hours. And went forward another 1 flying from London to Prague. Tyjo. (Kind of means wow in Czech)
  • We met some Czech people on the plane and tried talking to them. It gave us a nice little indicator of what the language would be like when we arrived. (Hint: it was bad news for us)
Arrival in Prague (Tuesday afternoon) and we made it into the country successfully, no one got arrested and accused of having a fake passport, so that was a plus. In Prague that day we:
  • Walked to a hill that overlooks the entire city and President McConkie told us the story of the Velvet Revolution while pointing out the landmarks
  • Walked up to a castle. Tyjo. Engineers in the Middle Ages deserve a whole lot of awards. There was a giant church (kostel) inside the courtyard that was older than the US and basically as big as the US too.
  • We then walked down the hill into the city. I immediately lost track of where we were, luckily we had the Assistants to the President as guides. (Other missionaries who have been around for a while)
  • We went to a restaurant called Czech Kitchen, but obviously written in Czech, I just can't remember the word for kitchen. And ordered Svičková. If you have not had it before (that would be most of you) then you cannot even imagine the joy that comes from this food. It is bread dumplings. With pork. And all smothered in the most wonderful sweet/not sweet at the same time sauce. I cannot even describe its beauty accurately.
  • Then we wandered amongst the Christmas markets a little longer and then went to the Metro and went contacting! I learned something very quickly. No one has any idea what I'm saying. And I have no idea what they are saying. It's a bit of a problem. I talked with a man and my understanding of Czech was so atrocious, that he gave up and would respond to my questions/statements in Czech with English.
  • Then we went to a Prague style hotel (an apartment outfitted with extra beds) and stayed the night.
Next day (Wednesday).
  • Woke up. Went to breakfast at the McConkies'. They are awesome, and Czech breakfast cereal is awesome. It was a good meal.
  • Then we had to go fill out some official governmental paperwork for a little. And then we came back and all of our trainers where present and seated. We had no idea who we would be with
  • President McConkie explained some things and then called us up one-by-one and announced, with fun intros, where we would be going and who we would be trained by. It was super awesome.
  • Then we had a cool spiritual thought and sang the Czech/Slovak mission song. It is amazing.
  • Then we took all of our luggage and went off to our different corners of the country. There are 4 missionaries here in C-BUD. Us and 2 Sisters. Sestra Birkland is training Sestra DeMann, from my MTC group.

Our apartment
  • We took a long train ride here (several hours)
  • We then dropped off luggage at my apartment and went and contacted our way over to the church building to teach a lesson to a YSA. I have absolutely no idea what anyone is saying.
  • We then had someone not show up for our next appointment so we contacted again. Let me
    emphasize 2 things about the Czech Republic. It is beautiful. And it is winter. The most wintery winter I ever did have in my life.
The following days.
  • Since then our days have been non-stopish. We contact, teach, contact, eat food, and contact and teach some more. It is great. To reemphasize, I have absolutely no clue what people are saying. The only person I can understand is my trainer because he speaks slowly just for me. And a tiny bit (let me emphasize tiny) from a less-active member we taught, because he also talked slowly for me
  • Halušky. It is macaroni and cheese, except superior in literally every way. With Kofola. The famous Czech soda. Also amazing.

  • I say non-stopish for one big reason. New Year's Eve is crazy here. As in fireworks going off everywhere and celebrating and what-not all over the place. It is not particularly productive to try to contact while you sound like you might be in a war zone, surrounded by people who are not necessarily sober. For that reason, we went back to our apartment early that night (7:15) and then fell asleep on our two couches. I woke up again at 9 and went to bed for real.
  • Remember how I mentioned jet lag? Well. It's almost gone now. Almost. But it has been killing me. Because when it's bed time, my body thinks that's about 2:30 PM and when we wake up, the MTC is getting the "lights-out" call. It is very difficult.
  • Our branch is awesome, we had about 20 people who attended on Sunday, and I think that basically every single one is a convert. Our Branch President is a convert of 4 years. He is amazing.
  • The interesting thing that goes along with that is that basically no member here has an idea of what an LDS Ward/Branch looks like of does. And their nearest resources are the 18-22 year old missionaries. It is quite the dynamic. But it is great. I bore my testimony in Czech in church. Other than that I understand one other thing. Sister DeMann's testimony, because she speaks just as slowly as I do, and she uses words that I know.
  • We went tracting out in Dobrá Voda a few days ago. So basically our area of C-BUD includes a whole lot of little Czechish suburbs and other cities and places that we can never get to consistently. Which makes it quite difficult to teach in our whole area. And we have the one church meeting here, and some people we meet could live up to an hour away by car. It's an adventure.
  • On Friday we took a little trip to Tabor. We had P-Day on Friday except for emailing, because it was New Year's Day and there were a total of 3 people outside to contact, and all of our planned lessons cancelled. Tabor is cool. Basically all of the cities here remind me of the New Orleans area at Disneyland. They are amazing. Also castles are all over the place and that's pretty neat.
My companion and I in front of a giant church. Beautiful interior, but we did not want to be rude, so we did not take pictures.

 (below) A statue of the founder of Tabor,Jan Zizka who captained the Hussites against the Roman Empire crusades.  He had an eye patch. 

Part of Tabor

I think that is all for today, I will also be sending some pictures. Thank you all for the emails and support! Love you. Also, also. Thank you for all the letters and updates, I didn't have time to respond today, because my big email was very long, but I read them all!

-Elder Pickett

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Starší Brad Pickett is in the Czech Republic!

Starší Pickett arrived in the Czech Republic on Tuesday afternoon and here he is with his Mission President, Pres James McConkie and wife Laurel McConkie.  Anxiously awaiting his first Czech email this Monday!!

The Czech District made the 15 hours (or so) journey to the Czech Republic together.  SLC --> Dallas --> London --> Prague.  

From a letter from Pres McConkie that accompanied the picture:  
"Attached is a photograph of Elder Pickett which was taken today just after he arrived in Prague.  Tomorrow, after a good night’s rest, he will be assigned a companion and an area in which to work. You should receive an e-mail from your missionary on P-day. We are confident that the Lord will stand with and bless him as he serves."