Monday, February 15, 2016

What even is time? Where does it go?

I can already tell that serving a mission has been the greatest decision of my entire life. And I am only just beginning!  Working with Elder Galbraith is going really well!  He teaches me to use time efficiently. Spend as little time as possible doing things that aren't specifically for proselyting. Be bold in everything.. in testifying, in contacting, and in teaching. Be determined. If you need to find someone, and they aren't answering their phone, show up at their house. Work hard. Baptize. Fight to find something that applies to everyone in the gospel. Learn Czech.  Hard work is definitely not a problem. We kind of joke that a lazy missionary would literally die in our mission. It's just not an option. With our Mission President, mission culture, and missionaries, they couldn't last. And the work is hard. So that would kill you too. Honestly, I have never been so consistently exhausted in my life, but also so consistently full of joy.

I am almost done with my first transfer of my mission, I don't even want to think about how quickly that went. I have lots to talk about, and little time to do so. I'll just jump right in.

  • ·        ·         First off, I have been meaning to mention this literally for about 3-4 weeks, but in March the Czech Republic is officially getting the green LDS hymnbooks! Which is awesome. We are excited for that. Especially because our current hymnbooks have an "older" and "newer" section combined together, and are a little bit hard to navigate for newbies (meaning me my first couple weeks).
  • ·         Also. I gave a talk yesterday in church. In Czech. That was an adventure. Luckily it was on mercy, which is a topic that I knew most of the vocab to talk about. The members are really supportive of the missionaries and their struggles to learn Czech. I got lots of nice comments afterwards which I mostly understood!   Speaking of the language, update on that as well. It's coming. Slowly. But I find that as I open my mouth more, I can better understand what people are saying. Not even necessarily the words, just the meaning. The Holy Ghost and the Gift of Tongues are real. And they are helping me out in a big way. I have really been working on talking more. And on trying to talk to people alone. That's the scariest. Because in a lesson, I know that I can say anything and my companion can explain/correct/bring the topic back if I went somewhere weird. And if someone says something I don't understand, I just look at him. But trying to talk to people on my own, I don't really have that safety net. It's a pretty big leap of faith, but also yields miraculous results, so I am trying to do it more often.

The Czech English dictionary. We worship it. Not quite. Against the commandments. But it is awesome. We just call it after the author. It is the Fronek. We would die without it.

Our planners for this transfer. Quite an adventure putting the second one together.
  • We also had Culture Night this past week. This is something unique that President McConkie does in our mission that was around when he was serving here. Once every transfer (9 weeks) our District chooses a cultural event, gets permission from the Zone Leaders, and attends it. So this past week we went to "Singing in the Rain." A musical. In Czech. It was amazing! Great music and dancing. Not a musical I had seen, but luckily I can understand just enough (and musicals are pretty visual too) to get the plot. It was super good and super cool. It was so interesting to be in an international performance like that. During the song "Good Morning," they said good morning in a bunch of different European langauges. That was cool. It was pretty great stuff.
Companion picture during intermission of SINGING IN THE RAIN v cestine 
  • Also, we had cleaning checks this week. That happens about once a transfer. So there are young missionaries for the church, but there are also senior missionaries. Less of them, obviously, and they have slightly different rules and schedules. But they are the ones who come and conduct cleaning checks. So the Morgans came down from Prague. They also brought delicious lemon poppy-seed bread for us. So we appreciated that. And we passed! Also, as an important note of gender stereotype defiance, the Sisters had more issues that we did. I credit my mom for making me doing Saturday chores and clean things. Thanks Mom!
  • Food is very important for missionaries.  From Elder Galbraith:  "So basically my life revolves around food. I'm incredibly grateful that my mission has taught me how to cook. we had DELICIOUS burritos and I found some hot sauce that was actually spicy."(We found a restaurant in Sacramento that serves Italian & Czech food... so I sent the menu and asked for recommendations.)  As far as the restaurant, I have not tried anything on that menu. Goulash is a Hungarian dish, and I have heard it is really tasty. Schnitzel would probably be really good there. It is fun to see that I know a lot of those works in the Czech menu. They are missing all the fun accent marks though. That's unfortunate. The Knedliky are really good in dishes. They are tasty bread dumplings. They come in Svičková.
Elder Galbraith had Taco Bell seasoning. We had burritos. They were divine.

  • Also, we had some fun times tracting. On Thursday we went tracting, and we tried to go to an area we have already been to before. Somehow, we ended up in a random other Czech suburb. We still don't understand what happened. But the 2nd house we tried had a giant dog that wanted to eat us. Luckily there was a fence. And a man came out on the second-story balcony and started talking to us, and pretty quickly asked "Are you Americans?" Now, we get this question reasonably frequently, in 3 main situations. Situation 1) "Wow! And you speak Czech this well! That's crazy, how long have you been here?" 2) "And is America or the Czech Republic better?" (we pretty much just go with they're different, also we don't really have the right kinds of perspectives as missionaries to know) or 3) The people who hate us because we are American, and swear at us in Czech. Not that I understand them. I just know they seem upset. That 3rd one is the least common, but I have been in that situation about 3 times so far. So, mainly we were worried he was going to be kind number 3 and then try to kill us with his giant, angry dog. But also, we don't lie as missionaries, so we said yes very tentatively. Luckily, he was not the number 3 kind. So that was good. Also, we met a very nice street that night. No one who wanted the gospel, unfortunately, but all very nice about not being interested. We also went tracting on Sunday night. That was my first time having to run to a make a bus. We saw it pulling up as we were probably about 100 meters away. We made it. Barely.

We found a cool little tree with a big hole in it during our bike ride today- Elder Galbraith

 For P-day today we rode bikes to Hluboka. So worth the pain we are now feeling after a day of biking 30 km after starting our morning at 5:40 to go run for an hour with the district president

My spiritual thought is on mercy. When we recognize how merciful God is to us, it really makes perfect sense why he wants us to be merciful to others too. He is willing to forgive our sins, and give us blessings, despite his perfect knowledge of our imperfections and mistakes. So my challenge to you all this week is to try to be merciful. To forgive others. Even when you KNOW they have done something wrong. I know that it will be blessing in our lives, and will help to make the lives of others around us better too.
Thanks for all the support and prayers!
-Starší Pickett

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